Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Belize: Reaching Youth Through Edutainment

Adolescents and youth in Belize face a myriad of challenges to their sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and wellbeing, which disproportionately affect those in the hardest to reach communities. Belize has faced an increasing adolescent birth rate in recent years, in addition to having the highest HIV incidence in Latin America and a high rate of sexual activity among out-of-school youth (a population most vulnerable to HIV infection and unintended pregnancy).

The concerning trends in Belizean adolescent SRH negative health outcomes are rooted in multiple causes, among the most predominant being cultural and religious barriers that keep ASRH topics taboo and stigmatize adolescent sexuality, while perpetuating institutional discrimination against adolescents who seek SRH services and supplies, and particularly adolescent mothers who are often forced to leave school. These barriers pose a significant challenge to the full implementation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools, particularly in faith-based schools and communities. Representing a period of significant emotional, physical and intellectual development, early adolescence is a critical time for successful CSE interventions.

From 2018-2019, funded by the Westwind Foundation, GOBelize sought to address these issues by furthering its consolidation as a fully sustainable youth-led organization working in partnership to foster services, programs and policies that improve SRHR outcomes among the diverse adolescent and youth populations in Belize.

Objectives and Strategies

  1. Partner with other key organizations and Ministries in order to create a supportive and enabling environment to advocate for policies, MoU, and funding for the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) initiatives at the national level.

  2. Engage youth in CSE using an edutainment approach that leverages the AMAZE videos and the social media outlets of GOBelize’s National Youth Platform. This initiative would be carried out in partnership with the National Youth
    Council, another body at the forefront of championing
    youth issues. Expand coverage of trainings to include the districts of Toledo, Stann Creek, Corozal, and Belize.
  3. Increase capacity within the GOBelize organization in the areas of research in ASRHR, monitoring and evaluation, and marketing for public relations. Strengthen GOBelize’s national organizational visibility through increased online media presence, and participating in key spaces and events such as, the National SRH Committee and the National AIDS Commission (NAC) Annual Meeting.

Impact and Results

 

  • GOBelize designed a new training package of AMAZE videos and tools based on topics most relevant and relatable for adolescent populations with which GOBelize works locally and nationally, including Gender Identity, Healthy Relationships, Personal Safety, Pregnancy and Reproduction, Puberty, and Sexual Orientation.
  • 19 primary school teachers and 10 service providers received a one-day introduction training on AMAZE resources along with toolkits prepared by GOBelize to facilitate their replication of the resources with their students/beneficiaries.
  • 9 GOBelize Alumni/Alumnae contributed to the country’s National HIV/TB Plan of Action on the District Committees of the National AIDS Commission (NAC) to advance ASRH at the local and national levels.
  • GOBelize was featured in a brand new research study published in 2018, called “Young People Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health: Toward a New Normal.” The study is the first of its kind on the subject matter, resulting in a comprehensive report that aims to improve documentation and understanding of the state of the field of youth investment, engagement and leadership development (YIELD) programming as a promising practice for improving adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (AYSRHR) outcomes. Read more in our blog post here!