Body & Soul is a community of members, volunteers, staff and professionals, and one of the most important things that happens here is the establishment of loving, trusting and lasting relationships between everyone in the community. For members of Teen Spirit, peer friendships are particularly important, and many of our activities are devised with this in mind. In the last quarter, we arranged for our members to attend a climbing workshop – they had to work together to conquer climbing challenges, something that requires cooperation, encouragement and support.
As part of our aim of nurturing relationships within the wider community, older members (those aged between 20 and 30) are involved in organising the activities for the Teen Spirit HIV programme. They sit in on planning meetings to help design the monthly event as well as participating in the post-event debrief and evaluation. They bring a vital perspective to the programme, as many of our Young Adult members have been through the Teen Spirit programme and are able to relate to current Teen Spirit members in a unique way, encouraging and facilitating deeper reflection among members, and in turn providing the staff team with valuable insights.
Connections with the wider world
A disproportionate number of young people affected by HIV have caring responsibilities (including cooking, cleaning, childcare and emotional support). Increased responsibilities at home inevitably mean teens are less likely to participate in their local community and/or have exposure to the kind of people who might inspire them to set ambitious goals for themselves, whether in their creative, personal or professional development. Young people who have been adopted often find themselves similarly isolated because of behavioural problems stemming from attachment issues.
Body & Soul acts as a bridge between our teen members’ personal/family lives and the wider world. In the last quarter, the Teen Spirit programmes played host to a senior A&E consultant who was adopted as a child, a spoken word artist who recently collaborated with Beats by Dr Dre, a dancer who has performed at prestigious venues like the Royal Opera House and two promising young filmmakers who run a media agency that has done work for the Cannes Film Festival. By introducing our members to these people, we are encouraging them to set ambitious goals for themselves and to realise that they can achieve these goals if they set their minds to it.