Focus on teens and social connection
Body & Soul supports members in their teenage years through two Teen Spirit services that run in parallel: one is tailored to the needs of young people who are living with or affected by HIV; the other is for young people who have been adopted. These two programmes cater to people whose lives are shaped by a complex array of needs, usually stemming from significant adversity in early life, whether that be abuse, neglect, family dysfunction, poverty or the demands of managing a chronic illness.
For teenagers, such adversity in the past can result in difficulties in the present with attachment, emotion regulation, identity and self-esteem, but what often emerges as the issue with the greatest impact is isolation. The importance of social relationships in determining health outcomes has long been established: “more socially isolated or less socially integrated individuals are less healthy, psychologically and physically, and more likely to die” (House, Landis & Umberson, 1988).
The Teen Spirit programmes see social connection as central to the process of healthy development. One of the core aims of the programmes is to create an environment that supports members as they forge a positive relationship with themselves, their community and the wider world around them.
At Body & Soul we provide our teen members with the opportunity to engage in healthy, age-appropriate activities, encouraging them to take reasonable risks (e.g. through creativity, sport, travel and the acquisition of new skills) without the potentially overwhelming negative consequences that come with other forms of exploration (e.g. high risk sexual behaviour, drug abuse, etc.). Our ultimate aim is to facilitate the development of a wide network of peer and adult relationships that members can call on in difficult times.
Click here to continue reading about the social connections we nurture in order to transform the lives of our teen members.