Seventy-five learners between the ages of 12 and 18 attended the A.R.T. Show on Tuesday morning 21 February. This formed part of the first HIVAN/WCRP Youth Forum for 2012. The walkabouts were presented in a participatory way by KZNSA Gallery Curator Bren Brophy, A.R.T Show exhibition co-curator Carol Brown and exhibition curatorial assistant Tatham Robinson.
The Centre for HIV/AIDS Networking's (HIVAN) reason for being is to inform, empower and connect people working with, in and around South Africa's response to HIV and AIDS. This belief is fundamental to all they do in HIVAN and is embodied in their tag line "Giving you hope and connection". Their work covers three main programme areas: HIV-911 Referral Database; Networking Forums and the Culture and Arts Programme.
The Youth Forum is a partnership project between HIVAN and Religions for Peace (WCRP). These Forums, now in their tenth year, draw together youth from schools across the economic, cultural and social spectrum in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Youth Forums focus on school-going youth between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Learners who hale from disadvantaged, Model C and private schools throughout in KwaZulu-Natal, attend the Forums. On average 25 schools are represented at each of these events providing valuable opportunities for shared learning and debate with youth from different cultural backgrounds, economic circumstances and religions.
The Youth Forum programme actively engages youth, as the future leaders of South Africa, through four half-day workshops each year. The workshops are theme based, drawing from the Millennium Development Goals and the National Strategic Plan for HIV, AIDS and TB for South Africa (NSP), as well as from topical events such as Human Rights Day, Peace Day and Heritage Day. A well-informed speaker drawn from government, academia or the health and welfare practitioner community anchors each workshop within the Youth Forum series. The youth attending are encouraged to take projects back into their schools and share the results of these initiatives at the following Youth Forum. Annually they have an awards ceremony that recognizes effort and outstanding achievements within the Youth Programme.
The Youth Forums are valuable, practical opportunities for youth to discuss, explore and gather new understandings of HIV, AIDS, TB and their drivers, as well as to reflect on how they can individually and collectively contribute to change in our society. The Forums have also played an important role in keeping the HIVAN team in touch with the aspirations and insights of youth in our province. Through these Forums, HIVAN helps to build a body of insight and activity that is relevant, focused and accessible to the youth of KZN.
Many of these children have never been exposed to exhibitions and art galleries. Being able to experience a tangible and informative exhibition and set of installations such as is provided through the A.R.T. exhibition was inspiring for this group of learners and provided ample material for future Youth Forum discussions, debates and school-based projects. Many thanks to eThekweni (Department of International and Governance Relations) for the sponsorship of busses to transport the WCRP learners.