Sport, Health and Education
Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Africa. Recently, sports and soccer in particular, has been taped into as a resource for education. Beyond its traditional role of entertainment, sports are now recognized to have an education potential in reaching youth and adults with reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention messages. Entertainment Education in general and sports in particular are an effective and appealing approach in changing behavior especially among youth. For more than 10 years now, The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (CCP) has designed, implemented and evaluated behavior change communication interventions centered around soccer. First under the CUP initiative (Caring Understanding Partners) and now under the Sports for Life program under the Health Communication Partnership Project.
Sports for life has been implemented in various countries around the word (Ethiopia, Namibia, Lesotho, Ivory Coast) with exciting outcomes in terms of breaking the barriers between generations, enhancing youth self-efficacy to practice safe sexual behaviors, developing leadership among youth, and reinforcing social norms. While soccer used to be considered as “boys business”, nowadays, girls have also joined in this movement for healthy life styles, even in rural Africa. This is a success in the fight against HIV and unwanted pregnancies, in a mostly traditional and conservative context, where girls are supposed to stay at home.
Guillaume Bakadi Mukenge is a nutritionist with an MPH in Health Behavior and Health Education from the University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For the past 6 years, he’s been employed as a Sr. Program Officer with CCP where he provides technical assistance in the design, implementation, management and evaluation of various behavior change communication and social mobilization programs throughout Africa. Between 2000 and 2005 he served as Behavior Change Communication (BCC) Advisor for the PRISM project in Guinea/West Africa.
M. Mukenge is a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire) and is now based at the CCP headquarters in Baltimore. CCP envisions a world in which communication saves lives.