On May 13th, the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mme Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, in collaboration with USAID, will launch ChommY. This pioneering program aims to empower children aged between 10 and 14 years from Ekurhuleni hostels. The initiative will be launched at the Vosloorus Civic Centre under the theme “Invest in my Future…Protect me Today.”
ChommY: Addressing the Challenges Faced by Young South Africans
ChommY is a comprehensive social and behavioral change initiative designed to reduce the prevalence of HIV infections, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy. It aims to equip young South Africans with knowledge, skills, and the ability to make informed choices. The program is an extension of the Department’s You Only Live Once (YOLO) initiative, launched in 2015. YOLO educates youth aged between 15 and 24 about HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and becoming agents of social change.
Fostering Positive Friendships among Children
ChommY aims to fill the gap in the YOLO program, where children aged between 10 and 14 were not included despite reports of their involvement in risky social and sexual behaviors. The term “ChommY” is a colloquial expression for “friend” and aims to foster positive friendships among children aged 10 to 14. The initiative encourages young boys and girls to motivate each other to minimize risky behavior and social ills, including bullying.
A Holistic Approach to Youth Empowerment
ChommY provides children with the opportunity to develop a personal plan for their lives, emphasizing the importance of support from parents and communities in enabling young people to make informed decisions. The initiative is part of a series of Social Behavioral Change (SBC) programs offered by the Department of Social Development.
In addition to providing knowledge and skills development, ChommY offers mentorship, exposure to positive role models, and peer support to help children navigate through their challenges. The program includes various interactive activities and workshops designed to engage the children and facilitate their learning in an enjoyable manner. By involving parents and communities in the process, ChommY aims to create a supportive environment that nurtures the growth and development of young people.
An Important Step towards Empowering and Protecting South Africa’s Youth
At the launch event, children from Ekurhuleni hostels will participate in indigenous games, share their social experiences and solutions, and interact with the program’s mascot, Bokamoso. The ChommY initiative aims not only to address the issues faced by young people but also to equip and prepare them for a better future. By focusing on the age group of 10-14 years, ChommY hopes to instill the right attitude and values in children that will carry them through their adolescent years, which is a critical period for shaping their future lives.
Making a Lasting Impact on the Lives of Young People in South Africa
The ChommY initiative is a significant step in the right direction for youth empowerment in South Africa. With continued support and commitment from all stakeholders involved, including the government, parents, and communities, ChommY has the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people in South Africa.