Goal! Soccer Captains and HIV Prevention in Belize


“Sport can play a strategic role in transferring life skills and communicating useful and encouraging messages on important issues, thus driving social change.” 

- Mr. Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace

On United Nations International Day of Sport for Peace and Development on April 6, we couldn’t have agreed with Mr. Lemke more.

According to the “UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic” of 2010, Belize has the highest HIV prevalence in Central America, with more than 4,800 people living with HIV (PLWHIV). That’s roughly 2.1% of the adult population. AIDS is the leading cause of death among people ages 15-49.

GOBelize is a youth-led NGO created by graduates of the GOJoven program. GOBelize aims to meet the rising need for sexual and reproductive health SRH education in Belize, including the prevention of HIV. Some school-based SRH programs exist, but with the rising numbers of PLWHIV, GOBelize wondered: how can we motivate out-of-school youth to attend HIV prevention trainings?

Many out-of-school youth in Belize work as laborers or field hands in the agricultural sector. GOBelize quickly realized that getting these young people to miss two days of work and wages to attend a 2-day training on HIV-prevention was close to impossible. The only thing they’ll miss work for? Soccer.

With this knowledge, GOBelize engaged local soccer team captains to motivate youth to attend the trainings. After GOBelize offered team captains a capacity-building session on the importance of education and training to address the spread of HIV, the captains decided that participation in the HIV-prevention trainings would be required in order to play in the next soccer game.

It worked! Close to 1,200 out-of-school-youth received comprehensive sexual and reproductive health training through GOBelize.

Since 2004, GOJoven fellows in Belize have reached more than 4,000 adolescents and youth with sexual and reproductive health education and training. Help them continue to do this work by visiting their Spotlight Page and making a contribution to the program today!


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GOJoven Fellows to Advocate for the Protection of Young Women’s Health and Rights at the United Nations

GOJoven Fellows Ingrid Galvez of GOJoven Guatemala, Wendy Aguilar of GOJoven Honduras and Nancy Leiva of GOBelize have been sponsored to travel to New York on April 2nd to participate in the International Women’s Health Coalition’s (IWHC) advocacy workshop, and the subsequent United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD) sessions, set for April 7-11 at the UN Headquarters.

GOJoven is committed to ensuring that young women’s health and rights are central to discussions of population and development. To that end, in 2013 Ingrid, Wendy and Nancy, and a number of other fellows, participated in the development of the Montevideo Consensus in Uruguay which brought together countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to prioritize access to sexual and reproductive health services. Most recently, Ingrid and Wendy received IWHC grant funding to develop trainings and advocacy strategies to disseminate information on the Montevideo Consensus and monitor its implementation in Guatemala and Honduras.

The upcoming IWHC advocacy workshop will provide 25 individuals, mostly youth, from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa with background on CPD and why it’s important for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Participants will learn advocacy strategies and identify and agree upon a set of key SRHR priorities for the CPD. Following the training, participants will lobby country delegates to ensure that strong language protecting women’s health and rights is made central to the post-2015 development agenda and goals.

The 47th session of CPD will assess the status of implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development’s (ICPD) Program of Action (PofA), also known as the Cairo Consensus, a document developed and adopted in 1994 by 179 countries, that made reproductive health and rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality critical components of population and development programs. The 47th session of CPD is particularly important because it marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Cairo Consensus.

The GOJoven Youth Leadership training model promotes gender equality, family planning and HIV prevention by building the capacity of young leaders and organizations to create positive change in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health programs, policies and services in Mexico and Central America.

We’re thrilled to represent the voice of women and youth from Mexico and Central America at this important United Nations meeting. Best of luck to Ingrid, Wendy, Nancy and all who attend!

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Meet Gladys: Leader, friend, and GOJoven fellow

Meet Gladys bannerOn United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we would like to introduce you to Gladys. Today, Gladys can look in the mirror and feel proud of what she sees.

For years this wasn’t the case. Growing up, Gladys faced racial discrimination from her own mother because of the color of her skin. “Dark girls like you can’t study,” her mother told her. In the short video below, Gladys shares how the discrimination impacted her self-esteem and the coping mechanisms she developed to deal with the pain.

At 19 years old, Gladys was selected to participate in the GOJoven youth leadership program. The GOJoven program, she recalls, is where she had the opportunity to meet other amazing young people, and begin to accept and love herself for who she is.

GOJoven is committed to promoting the health and well-being of young people. The GOJoven youth leadership training model promotes cultural, ethnic and sexual diversity and equality by training young leaders on the values of interculturalism, team-work and collaborative leadership, We teach the importance of self-respect and self-esteem in developing oneself as an effective leader and change agent to promote social justice.

For many youth throughout Central America and Mexico, GOJoven is the first place where they feel accepted no matter their sexual orientation, race, gender, or skin color. Now, graduated GOJoven Fellows are using the training model to promote diversity, promote acceptance and improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health in their communities.

Thousands of youth like Gladys face racial discrimination within their own families and in their communities. On International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we encourage you to stand against racial discrimination and intolerance.

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Errol Longsworth Represents GOJoven and GOBelize at the 2014 NCD Child Conference

ErrolErrol Longsworth, an active member of the GOJoven Belize Alumni Association (GOBelize) and graduate of the Public Health Institute’s Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven), travels to Trinidad on March 19th to attend the 2014 NCD Child Conference to share his perspective as a youth leader from Belize. Errol currently is an outreach caseworker for the treatment unit at the National Drug Abuse Control Council, a governmental organization under the Ministry of Health in Belize, where he helps to educate students and the general public to the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use. Errol talks about the impact of drugs and violence on his life and his dedication to improving the health and well-being of the youth of Belize in his GOJoven digital story.

The 2014 NCD Child Conference, the second International Conference on NCDs, Children and Adolescents, will be held March 20 – 21, 2014, in Port of Spain, Trinidad. NCD Child is a global coalition, championing the rights and needs of children, adolescents and youth who are living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), or are at risk of developing NCDs or the behaviors that underlie NCDs later in life. The conference aims to further develop a vibrant platform for interaction, knowledge exchange and networking.

The 2012 NCD Child Conference –held in Oakland, CA and co-sponsored by the Public Health Institute – produced the Oakland Statement on Children, Adolescents and NCDs. The 2014 conference will build on the achievements of the 2012 NCD Child Conference to ensure the needs of children, adolescents and youth are a priority focus within the context of NCD action and the post-2015 agenda. The event will provide an opportunity to establish and strengthen regional partnerships – with a special focus on the Caribbean – as well as highlight current promising practices from around the world.

Dr. Lynn Silver, a senior advisor for chronic disease and obesity with PHI will co-moderate a panel on March 20 at 1:30 pm, titled: Human Rights, Legislation and Post 2015. Errol will represent GOBelize and GOJoven and will participate in a special youth focused pre-conference dinner with change makers from around the world to discuss the outcomes of the UNICEF Facts For Life meeting, in the context of his experience mobilizing youth in the fight against NCDs.

DSCN1781GOBelize is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) formed in 2010 by a group of GOJoven Alumni. This youth-lead organization empowers youth through educational opportunities in sexual and reproductive health, enhanced leadership skills and environmental consciousness in order to create a healthy Belize. GOBelize has created and implemented programs throughout Belize to engage out-of-school youth in HIV prevention education, advocate for comprehensive sexuality education in schools and train service providers to offer youth-friendly health services.

Best of luck to Errol and Lynn in Trinidad!

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GOJoven at the 2014 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

On International Women’s Day, GOJoven is thrilled to be on our way to New York to be part of the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)! CSW58 brings together member states, UN entities, and NGOs to discuss and address the challenges and achievements related to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for women and girls.

The eight MDGs, below, form a blueprint for how the world’s governments and largest development organizations can meet the needs of the world’s most marginalized people.

GOJoven is committed to helping achieve the MDGs with specific emphasis on achieving MDGs 3, 5, and 6. Millions of adolescents across Mexico and Central America continue to face gender-based violence, high risks of early pregnancy, and STI/HIV infection.

The GOJoven Youth Leadership training model promotes gender equality, family planning and HIV prevention by building the capacity of young leaders and organizations to create positive change in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) programs, policies and services in Mexico and Central America.

GOJoven promotes and facilitates the empowerment of young women from Mestizo, Mayan, Garifuna and Creole cultures across Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. Following participation in the GOJoven program, fellows like Ivonne from Honduras have gone on to open youth friendly spaces and clinics to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of hundreds of adolescents and youth. Other fellows like Nekeisha from Belize have committed to helping educate young women on their reproductive rights and how to protect themselves against early pregnancy.

We look forward to continuing our work to help achieve the MDGs and the opportunity to be part of the 58th Commission on the Status of Women.  If you are in New York at CSW58 please join us at our panel presentation “Leading the Way: Youth-Centered Health Strategies in Action” with Let Girls Lead and Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) that will be held on Friday, March 14th in the Boss Room on the 8th floor of the UN Church Center from 8:30am – 10:00am. We’ll be posting updates and photos from the event to our Facebook, so be sure to Like our page and follow along.


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GOJoven Fellows Lead Trainings for Radio Announcers in Mexico

1 grp shotRadio has the power to disseminate information to even the remotest locales, making it an excellent medium for providing young people the information they need to understand and protect their sexual and reproductive health.

Just this month, fellows of GOJoven, in partnership with nonprofit organization Inspira Cambio, offered comprehensive training to more than a dozen local youth radio broadcasters, and members of an adolescent boys collective called JXiibal, in order to equip them with the basic skills they need to talk about and deal with issues related to sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, discrimination, and sexism.

3 Nicte facilitandoThe training was coordinated by GOJoven fellows Rodolfo Moo Chi of the Commission for the Development of Indigenous people, and Silvia Muñoz of Inspira Cambio. Carlos Can Estrella, also a fellow of GOJoven, trained participants on leadership, teamwork, and HIV prevention, and Nicté Chablé Berlin, of GOJoven, gave a training on sexist language in the media.

2 grp cirlceFollowing the trainings, attendees took a test to assess their ability to communicate, coordinate and lead. After they finished the test they had the opportunity to talk about what they had discovered through the workshops.

In addition to empowering attendees with important information regarding how they could protect their sexual and reproductive health, the training created a small network where participants will be able to exchange information and link with other organizations for future collaboration.

For more information on the work of GOJoven fellows to create positive change in Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) programs, policies, and services in Mexico and Central America through education and advocacy, subscribe to receive our monthly email updates and Like us on Facebook.

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Meet Jacinta


Business development specialist, indigenous woman, and GOJoven fellow.

In honor of United Nations World Day of Social Justice, a day dedicated to eradicating poverty and promoting gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all, we want to introduce you to Jacinta.

As a Mayan woman, Jacinta is committed to educating and uplifting indigenous women in Quintana Roo, Mexico, so they can find economic stability and exercise their sexual and reproductive rights. Jacinta is all too familiar with the discrimination indigenous women face in their communities and even within their own families. In the short video below, she shares how her own father told her that women had no reason to seek an education. This discrimination inspired Jacinta to continue to study and show the world that as a woman, she has a right to an education and can contribute meaningfully to her community.

Jacinta completed her studies and became an Industrial Engineer in Business Development and a Mayan leader who is bilingual in Spanish and Maya.

At 29, she was selected to participate in the GOJoven youth leadership program. Since then, she has made it her mission to educate women on equity and gender, culture, sexual and reproductive health, environmental sustainability, and human rights. She persevered against discrimination and poverty and urges other women to take a stand for their rights.

Indigenous women throughout Mexico and Central America continue to face discrimination that limits their opportunities to get an education and better their lives. Hundreds of GOJoven fellows like Jacinta are dedicated to improving and expanding opportunities for marginalized people through education and advocacy.

We encourage you to share Jacinta’s story. To learn more about the work of GOJoven, visit our website or Facebook page. 


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GOJoven Honduras Launches a Youth Training Initiative to Eradicate Poverty, Violence, and Discrimination

Youth trained by GOJoven Honduras

Youth trained by GOJoven Honduras

One of the eight priorities that make up the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development states that children and adolescents should be guaranteed the opportunity to live their lives free of poverty, violence and any form of discrimination. This is of particular importance to the newly formed GOJoven Honduras Association, recently awarded a grant by the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to develop and implement a training to empower youth to disseminate information on the Montevideo Consensus and monitor its implementation. 

The Montevideo Consensus, adopted in August of 2013 by representatives (including six GOJoven Alumni) from 38 member countries who make up the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), contains more than 120 measures concerning eight priority areas developed in follow-up to the Programme of Action of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in 1994. The ICPD Programme of Action from 1994 endorsed a new strategy for addressing population growth and international development. The new strategy highlighted the links between population growth and human well-being (known as development) and focused on meeting the needs of individual men and women. Twenty years later, the international community is looking at what needs to be done post-2014 in order to continue this increasingly important work.

Now that the Montevideo Consensus has been adopted, and with ICPD post-2014 on the horizon, the participation of young people is critical to ensure that the priorities contained within are addressed and implemented in a way that takes into consideration the unique needs of children and adolescents. Only then, it is believed, will it be possible for children and adolescents to live free of poverty, violence and discrimination.

Segundo Taller - Plan de Incidencia PoliticaBased on their track record of successfully mobilizing youth and advocating on their behalf, GOJoven Honduras was recently selected by the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to receive grant funding to develop and implement a training to empower youth to disseminate information on the Montevideo Consensus and monitor its implementation.

With this grant funding, GOJoven Honduras will train 15 fellows to better understand the elements included within the Consensus via virtual trainings, education materials, videos, and media briefings. These 15 youth, from different regions of Honduras, will act as leaders in their communities, tasked with disseminating important information to youth at the local level. GOJoven Honduras will also educate 25 NGOs and government organizations about the Montevideo Consensus and the next steps in the ICPD process in 2014.

Armed with information and ways to get involved, Honduran youth will be better equipped to ensure that their unique needs and challenges are incorporated into the implementation of policies and programs that aim to eradicate poverty, violence and discrimination.

To receive updates on the work of GOJoven Honduras related to the Montevideo Consensus, sign up for our newsletter below. To make a financial contribution to support the work of GOJoven Honduras, click here.


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GOJoven Mexico Participates in the Launch of the Network for SRH

Network for sexual and reproductive health for young people in Quintana Roo, launched during National Week of Adolescent Health

Network for sexual and reproductive health for young people in Quintana Roo, launched during National Week of Adolescent Health

Fellows from GOJoven Mexico were among 700 youth who participated in the public launch of the network for sexual and reproductive health for young people in Quintana Roo. The launch coincided with the kickoff of the National Week of Adolescent Health.

“The network is intended to strengthen institutional strategies and programs in cooperation with civil society organizations and contribute to an increase in the supply of services for youth,” said Sandybel Robaldino, National Coordinator for GOJoven Mexico.

GOJoven Mexico's booth at the launch of the youth SRH  network

GOJoven Mexico’s booth at the launch of the youth SRH network

The launch event, promoted by the System for Integral Family Development, the Ministry of Health and the city of Benito Juarez, offered youth educational resources around health and well-being via 12 different booths, including one organized by GOJoven Mexico.

According to Robaldino, “The event was important to help strengthen the preventative and comprehensive sexual education resources available to youth, enabling them to make responsible and informed decisions about their sexual health.”

There are currently 20 million youth between 15 and 24 years old living in Mexico. Both the event and the network were born of the knowledge that youth make up a huge proportion of the population in Mexico and Central America and their health and well-being need to be at the forefront of plans for the future.

To hear more about GOJoven Mexico, Like them on Facebook and subscribe to


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A Fellow’s Experience: Consultation to Reduce Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean

GOBelize on the dockby Elmer Cornejo

In December, I had the opportunity to travel to Trinidad and Tobago together with Stephen Diaz of the GOJoven Belize Alumni Association and Amber Pitts of the Department of Youth Service to participate in the High Level Consultation to reduce adolescent pregnancy in the Caribbean Region. All of my expenses were covered by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The meeting was attended by 10 Ministers of Governments from across our region, other government officials, representatives from civil society, the private sector, youth organizations like GOJoven, the United Nations and other international development partners.

On our first day, we were briefed on what would be covered at the consultation and how we would participate. At that meeting Amber and I agreed to share our individual stories as to how adolescent pregnancy had impacted our lives personally. Amber shared her story from the perspective of being a mother in her adolescent years and I shared my story as being the child of an adolescent mother. It was a unique moment for me because young men rarely have the opportunity to share how they too can be affected by an adolescent pregnancy. What I hoped to convey as a young man is how men are also involved in the problem of adolescent pregnancy. This also means they are part of the solution to reduce and eventually end adolescent pregnancy in our region.

Also during the first day, we had the opportunity to view and comment on the regional framework to reduce adolescent pregnancy drafted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We saw a lot of it that we weren’t in agreement with and worked all afternoon rectifying “errors” and inserting proposed ideas to the draft. It was a success, and at the end we turned in the revised draft in to the organizers. Dr Babatunde, Executive Director for UNFPA said he was glad for our effort.

On the second day, youth in our region had the opportunity to have a discussion and share our ideas with Dr. Babatunde. One of the ideas we proposed was the creation of a Youth Task Force to help with the implementation of the Integrated Framework to Reduce Adolescent Pregnancy in the Caribbean. Dr. Babatunde was supportive of this idea.

After spending the rest of that day working on the draft Integrated Framework to Reduce Adolescent Pregnancy, we attended a reception where we were entertained by two violinists.

At the reception, I spoke with the Honourable Herman Longsworth, Minister of Youth and Sports of Belize, about a possible follow-up to the consultation. He agreed that he would support activities we’d like to make as follow up to the consultation.

All-in-all the mission was rather productive and successful! I am looking forward to the follow-up meeting scheduled for the end of the month in Belmopan City, Belize. Thank you UNFPA/UNDP for the opportunity to participate. I am sure that smart investment in sex education and access to sexual and reproductive health services for young women in the Caribbean can bring about a big change, not only for the development of women in the region, but for society in general.

- Elmer Cornejo, GOBelize Fellow 2009


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