On March 18th, 2022, the Uganda youth and adolescent health forum held an orientation for over 10 new change champions who were recently brought on board.

The meeting held at the UYAHF youth hub was organized to brief the new change champions about the UYAHF mandate, their role as change champions, some of the activities they will be involved in, and also introduce them to the other change champions and UYHAF staff, as well as for them to share their expectations.

While presenting the mandate of the youth hub at the beginning of the orientation, Mary Kirunda, a senior change champion at the hub, revealed that UYAHF strives to achieve its vision through the hub.

“UYAHF set up the youth hub in 2018 in Kampala district, with an overall goal of creating a safe space for recreation, skills development, and learning for adolescents and young people. The hubs’ mission is to promote meaningful youth participation in health programming and sustainable livelihoods,” Kirunda added.

She called upon her fellow champions to feel at home and make the best use of the hub adding that they would become better and more influential advocates in their communities.

Ms. Norah Nakyegera, an advocacy and campaigns officer at UYAHF, guided the new change champions through their roles as change champions, which included challenging existing negative social norms in communities, which she says undermine the dignity of women and girls, raising awareness about harmful practices such as child marriage and SGBV, and encouraging young people to freely speak about them and report cases.

Ms. Norah Nakyegera, an advocacy and campaigns officer at UYAHF taking the champions in a session during the orientation

“We are aware that young people of whom you are inclusive, continue to face a lot of challenges like stigma, myths, and misconceptions around the use of contraceptives but now that you have become a change champion, it is going to be your role to create awareness and demystify the myths in your respective communities” Norah added.

Norah urged the change champions to take advantage of the youth hub and actively participate in sessions including SRHR discussion, entrepreneurship skills training, capacity building on reports, proposals, concepts, and blog writing while they also have fun during entertainment sessions.

While sharing their expectations, the new change champions revealed quite a number of key barriers to accessing SRHR services and information, among which include health facilities not having youth-friendly policies, which they say makes many young people shy away from accessing services, rude health workers at facilities, and a lack of accurate information, among others.

They committed to making the best use of the opportunity of being champions and also using the knowledge gained while at the hub to become key SRHR advocates in their spaces and change their communities.