A girls-targeted intervention, Skillz Girl combines an activities-based HIV prevention and life skills curriculum with fair play soccer and peer-led community outreach activities. Led by GRS’ community role models, Skillz Coaches, and enhanced by the unique culture developed within Skillz programs, this girl-centered initiative creates a safe space for adolescent girls (between ages 13 and 19) to play non-competitive soccer, take action in their community, and have vital conversations about HIV and AIDS. Participants of the Skillz Girl behavioural change communication program who are mentored by thoroughly-trained female peer educators are also provided access to voluntary and free HIV Testing Services (HTS) after every intervention with a referral system to cater for those requiring treatment and further counseling.
In order to protect themselves from HIV and many other STIs, unwanted and adolescent pregnancy, and how to live risk-free and take care of themselves, girls in sub-Saharan Africa need knowledge, skills, and community support. Sports for development programs have been proven to be an effective means of empowering young girls, as they promote communication, education, negotiation skills, leadership, mentorship and a platform for relevant discussions about female-related issues. In many African nations, girls are often considered second-class citizens and not given opportunities to reach their full potential. Sports programs directly challenge such misperceptions about women’s capabilities.
In a 2008 report, the International Working Group for Sport for Development and Peace stated: “Research on sport, gender and development indicates that sport can benefit girls and women by: enhancing health and well-being; fostering self-esteem and empowerment; facilitating social inclusion and integration; challenging gender norms; and providing opportunities for leadership and achievement.”
Since it was piloted in 2014, over 10,000 girls have graduated from the program through the in-school and out-of-school interventions.
Out-of-School Skillz Girl intervention in Lagos
Young females in Nigeria, particularly girls between the ages of 10 and 19, face significant challenges, especially in terms of access to proper sexual and reproductive health education, and knowledge about healthy behaviour as regards prevention of endemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS. As a result, the achievement of their full potential is hindered.
Skillz Girl Naija In-School Intervention