Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Out of the Box" stimulates youth discussion

Production still: One of the young girls who worked with me on the film "Out of the Box".
The theme of this year's National Poetry Festival is "Defying the Disease through the Power of the Word: Resisting Stigma and Discrimination". The organisers are focusing on identifying innovative ways of addressing problems associated with HIV/AIDS. One of their points of focus is the role which can be played by the media in the reduction of stigma and discrimination.

In light of this, I was asked by the organisers to use one of the HIV-related films I've worked on for TTCRC. The first was Invisible.

I gave them the second and most recent film, Out of the Box, which I worked on with girls aged 12 - 17 over the 2008 Christmas holidays and into January 2009. The festival organisers screened it on Monday as part of National Poetry Week, at an event/panel discussion for school children at the National Library.

"Out of the Box" was the catalyst which stimulated a vital discussion post-screening. Read more in this media release from the Idakeda website, which outlines the event (see below):

Media Release

Young people speak frankly about dealing with HIV and AIDS in Trinidad and Tobago

A touching film about a family living with the discrimination caused by HIV and AIDS was the catalyst for an open and frank dialogue among young people attending the Poetry Festival Panel Discussion on Monday. The film 'Out of the Box' by Elspeth Duncan depicts an HIV positive mother and her children who do not have the virus, talking about the reactions from the rest of the community to their situation.

In discussing the main theme of the session 'The Role of the Media in Resisting Stigma and Discrimination' a number of important and concerning points came out. According to the young people present there is still a high prevalence of unprotected sex among their age group. Additionally, they admit that young people do not educate themselves about HIV and refuse to get tested either out of embarrassment, fear or simple ignorance.

They pointed out that another important reason for young people not being as proactive as they should be, is the perceived general lack of tolerance to the issue. This lack of tolerance they say, leads to insensitivity in the community and lack of confidentiality.

At the end of the discussion some very real solutions were recommended:

  1. Use community centres and spaces more effectively as sources of counseling and real help for young people
  2. Retrain health care workers. The young people complained that they would meet surly and unhelpful health care staff, who actually would not treat them with sensitivity or care once they know about your HIV positive status.
  3. Develop programmes specifically targeted towards parents to help with their knowledge, empathy and general awareness
  4. Increase the number of targeted programmes in schools
  5. Incorporate education about HIV and AIDS in the school curriculum, even at the primary level as a means of breaking down uninformed opinions and prejudice

We would like to thank the young people for their contributions and at Idakeda will continue to do our part to make a difference.

Stay with us on our journey ...



photograph is wonderfully expressive. You are doing some great work. Bravo!!!

Elspeth said...

Thank you.