The first prelimiary event of the VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) Public Speaking Competition was held at Retshedisitswe High School on the 17th March 2010. The overall aims of this competition are to ascertain the knowledge held by the youth on the subject of HIV and AIDS; enlighten and empower the youth who are adversely affected and infected by the scourge of HIV and AIDS, on how to prevent it spread and deal with the challenges; encourage voluntary counselling and testing amoungst the youth; create a platform for the identification, grooming and development of the future leaders through enhancing their language and public speaking skills, and to strengthen working relationships with the schools in the communities served by the Topsy Foundation.
The learners were expected to choose a topic from a provided list and conduct extensive research into the topic. They were then expected to write a five-minute speech, and to present this on the day of the competition. The evaluation focused on the accuracy and depth of the information provided, plus the ability of the learner to articulately present the information. A one-minute improptu question was given to the learners after their presentations, and their ability to think quickly and articulate their improptu response added to their overall presentation marks.
The event was attended by all 1029 learners of the school, and there were a total of 23 participants in the competition.
Considerable information on the effects of HIV and AIDS was shared during the participants presentations.
After the presentations, a motivation on voluntary counselling and testing was done. This motivation highlighted the effects of HIV and AIDS and the immune system, the importance of knowing on'es status early, seeking medical assistance, and preventing primary and secondary infections. Information on post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and the possible means of infection were also shared.
A challenge was presented to the learners, teachers and invited guests to 'let the choices they make today be the choices they can live with tomorrow'. These included the choices to take heed of the knowledge shared on HIV and AIDS, get tested for HIV to know one's status, and to live a responsible life.
The results of the competition and the winners were then announced, and the winners were presented with their prizes.
The enthusiasm and work of the participants showed a readiness amongst the youth of South Africa to be part of the driving force in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Further education will take place in the form of posters and flyers which will be handed out in the schools.
This was the first of many of these events that will be presented by the Topsy Foundation, in an effort to involve the youth in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and to encourage them to get tested, and to live responsibly.
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