Sarangani project on teen pregnancy takes grand prize at youth forum on health

Over 1,000 delegates watched as Team TeenPUYOG, from Region XII – SOCCSKSARGEN, was named the Grand Champion of Ideas Positive Run 8 at an annual youth forum on public health, held in Iloilo City last August 12 and 13. Their project, IDOLescent M.A.T.T.E.R, empowered peer educators to engage T'boli youth on the prevention of teenage pregnancy.

Engaging the indigenous community through peer education

The team’s youth members, Claresse Ann Bautista, Desirre Merced Mae Pagaduan, Elizabeth Ariel Hannah Maturan, Edgardo Martinez, and Raffle Tagapulotan, were assisted by their mentor, Godwin Lord Gallo. They explained, “The positive idea behind this project is to capacitate our IDOLescents to take lead in [addressing] teenage pregnancy through peer education.”

The project helped reduce teenage pregnancy by 50% during the time of implementation. The team believes that the key to their project’s success was “the positive engagement of the indigenous community of T'boli in Barangay Maligang, together with the barangay council and Sangguniang Kabataan.”

The awarding of the Grand Champion was the highlight of the two-day Ideas Positive Youth Forum on Public Health, organized by Unilab Foundation (ULF). Youth delegates were joined by representatives from civil society organizations, government agencies and local government units, advocates and persons with disability. All the sessions were designed with the objective of discussing pressing health issues and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,  and the solutions that can be contributed by the youth.

“Collaborate, innovate, and inspire”

At the opening ceremonies, ULF Executive Director Lilibeth Aristorenas emphasized the role of the youth in development. “As we celebrate International Youth Day, [we can see] that the youth is indeed a force to reckon with. Millennials are taking over the world to build a better future for the next generation.”

The keynote speech was given by Randy Halasan, Commissioner of the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership. He said, “The youth have a crucial role to play in the future of our country. Collaborate, innovate, and inspire other youth to join you in your other programs and projects.”

Elaine Tan, Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation, talked about the state of the ASEAN youth, and echoed Halasan and Aristorenas’ sentiments. “Youth is an important stakeholder in the ASEAN.”

Youth and government, working together for health

Among the youth delegates were over 300 newly elected members of the Sangguniang Kabataan. The SK attended a special workshop that gave them an overview of their responsibilities as elected youth officials, and equipped them with the knowledge to develop and implement health programs in their barangays during their term.

Besides the SK participants, many other delegates expressed their desire to participate more actively in health projects. Select delegates collaborated to draft a collective youth statement for health. In the document, titled ‘Youth Declaration for Healthier Communities,’ the youth stated, “We believe that the youth are the prime movers of change. We acknowledge that we have creativity, energy and passion, and we will do our best to help make our communities better and healthier. We commit to raise awareness among the youth on their vital role as agents of change.” The statement was presented to the National Youth Commission, in the hopes that it would be adopted by Congress and other relevant government bodies as a reference on how the youth can participate in matters of public health.

What else can the youth do for public health?

The forum provided youth delegates with different platforms for sharing innovative ideas on public health. Nearly thirty delegates attended the Health Journalism workshop, fellowship and competition. Students and researchers were also given a venue to present their research findings at the Health Research exhibit and the poster presentations. And four teams from University of the Philippines-Visayas Iloilo City Campus, University of the Philippines-Visayas Tacloban Campus and Capiz State University participated in the health debates.

The forum also featured a Health and Tech Expo, presented by STEM+PH, ULF’s initiative for championing STEM education. The expo provided visitors with opportunities to learn about STEM, while senior high school and college students were given an opportunity to showcase health-related inventions and innovations.

The program included twelve breakout sessions tackling various health-related topics, such as environment, children’s welfare, HIV/AIDS, sustainable tourism and industry, innovation and infrastructure. The sessions featured experts such as Jose Angelito Palma of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines, Dr. Louie Ocampo of UNAIDS Philippines, and Dr. Melinda dP. Bandalaria of UP Open University.

Inspired by the Run 8 National Finalists and the discussions and activities at the forum, many youth participants expressed an interest in participating in the next run of the competition.

Ideas Positive will open recruitment for Run 9 in October 2018.