What is Dance4Life?
Dance4Life is an international project aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle among young people, maintaining and strengthening reproductive health, preventing HIV infection and other socially significant diseases, and bringing out one’s unique potential.
The project is being implemented in 17 countries of the world and seven regions of Russia (Nizhny Novgorod Region, Rostov Region, Kemerovo Region, Altai Territory, Republic of Udmurtia, Republic of Buryatia, Sverdlovsk Region).
In the regions the project is implemented by FOCUS-MEDIA partners. The partners are responsible for ensuring the project implementation (recruit peers, maintain their motivation, establish links with educational institutions, etc.). Regional partners are organisations experienced in working with youth, having passed the selection according to the criteria of FOCUS-MEDIA and taken part in setting meetings (where they learned about the project, its concept, implementation principles). In its turn, the Fund, being the owner of the national concept, presents the program at the Federal Level, provides regional partners with methodological, communication, monitoring and financial support.
Dance is a symbol of the project. Dance is a universal language with the help of which young people around the world communicate with each other. This dance brings together young people who know how to improve their reproductive health.
Adolescents and young people aged 14-22, including those living with HIV, and substance users undergoing a rehabilitation program in social assistance centers.
The project has been implemented in Russia since 2005. Until 2017, the project followed a 4-stage model:
- “Get inspired” – interactive lessons, in which children are inspired by the opportunity to change their lives;
- “Learn” – training sessions, in which the children (who passed the 1st stage) received the necessary knowledge and skills about what reproductive health is and how to preserve it;
- “Act” – a stage that encourages participants (who have passed the first two stages) to apply the knowledge and skills in life;
- “Celebrate” is the time when the guys celebrate the results of their work.
Over the years, the project has undergone changes in order to correspond with modern trends and realities. After a thorough analysis and the research of the project’s impact on the behavior of young people, it was decided to change the approach to prevention. All four components of the project merged together in the Dance4Life Empowerment model (Model of personality formation “Dance for life”). In 2017, on the basis of UNESCO recommendations, a program combining a conscious approach of participants to prevention, decision-making, and personal leadership was developed. The program was called Journey4Life.
The project training program is aimed at young people’s risk behavior reduction through the development of their personality and leadership qualities. The main method is learning through experience: youth leaders (4Life Champions) and participants take part in role-plays and exercises from real life of adolescents, advice reliable sources of information on prevention (2live.ru platform), and jointly come up with different ways for developing life skills.
The Journey4Life consists of five stages and goes through three main themes:
- ME – participants learn about themselves and their strengths.
- ME and YOU – participants assess their behavior and attitude towards other people, learn about intergender relations.
- ME and SOCIETY – participants explore existing issues in the society in which they live, their role in it, the opportunity to change society for the better.
The journey consists of ten meetings. Each lasts for 90 minutes.
Throughout the program, participants face with challenges aimed at strengthening the personality and competence of young people. For example, taking an HIV test at a youth friendly facility. One of the outcomes of each Travel is an action, when participants independently develop their projects and activities in their own way on the topic that they find most relevant for themselves and their loved ones. This program is being implemented not only in Russia, but also in 17 other countries-participants of the project. In each country, the program is carefully adapted according to the cultural context.
The 4Life Champions are youth leaders aged 18-24 with leadership and groups’ leadership experience. Future Champions take part in peer-to-peer teaching training, which is conducted by certified international trainers of the Dance4Life project.
Act for life
Apart from the main program implementation, young people take an active part in various interregional online and offline actions devoted to memorable dates, such as AIDS Day, Contraception Day, Tuberculosis Day, etc. For example, on December 1, World AIDS Day, project volunteers for students of educational institutions conduct interactive lectures, “information tents”, take part in dance flash mobs, online challenges “Tell your neighbor about HIV”.
- 12,021 people have taken part in the Travel4Life program (2017–2019)
- 300 4Life Champions have been trained (2017-2019)
- after completing the program, the level of knowledge about HIV transmission methods increased;
- the percentage of those who are able to accept their weaknesses and assess their strengths has increased;
- more adolescents are able to talk about what concerns them about reproductive health with peers and with adults, feel more confident that they will be able to seek help from medical institutions;
- the program provides opportunities for personal development;
- the program allows you to see real changes in yourself, gives you the opportunity to look at life in a new way;
- the number of participants who, after completing the Travel, expressed a desire to become Champions, raised to 40% of all participants.
The project exists in Russia since 2005 and currently is a network of youth NGOs helping to overcome stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. Dance for Life! brand is widely recognized and attractive to the target group of the project. Due to its effectiveness and uniqueness, the project received support at the level of local authorities and regional AIDS centers.
Information on the project
Contacts: Polina Vescheva firstname.lastname@example.org