Since 1988, December 1st has been recognized as the day the world stops to acknowledge the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  This has become an important date around the world more than ever particularly in nations that have been hit hardest, and continue to be affected by the Epidemic.  Continued recognition of world AIDS day is vital because as advances in research, and retroviral drugs expand, people cannot become complacent about AIDS awareness or the misinformation that often surrounds it.

African Youth Development Fund held its first world AIDS day event in 2010 in the Alexandra Township where it works with youth from 14 primary schools, and 6 high schools.  The continued barrage of information surrounding HIV/AIDS is fully supported by AYDF as the youth must be taught early how to avoid putting themselves at risk of contracting this disease.  2012 would see AYDF hold its 3rd annual World Aids day event at the 3 square basketball facility in Alex.  Month long preparation by the AYDF team sought to ensure a high turnout of youth for a day of life skills, and HIV/AIDS awareness combined with basketball exhibition.

The Target of 400 youth was only slightly missed as the day saw 367 youth treated to an information filled day.  Not only were the children exposed to positive life skills education, but they were blessed with the vast knowledge from the women of Life Line, a local HIV/AIDS peer support organization.  The children in attendance ranging from grade 3 to recent matriculates were lead through exercise stations that introduced basketball fundamentals, and competitive play.  Once the morning session was complete all in attendance enjoyed a healthy filling lunch along with the Tiger brands sponsored sports drink “Game Juice”.  Local community youth who were in the area were also invited to take part in the lunch, and invited to stay for the afternoon program.

The afternoon program began with the nationwide moment of silence at 12pm when candles were lit to commemorate the victims of HIV/AIDS, and those living with the disease.  AYDF’S Nhlanhla Nxumalo then gave a rousing motivational talk that was designed to reach children of all age levels instilling the theme of self-worth and value for life.   The crowd was then treated to a dance performance by local Pantsula dancers followed by all start Basketball games.  It was unfortunate that the event had to be cut short just as the second all-star game started; however, as the rain began it was decided that playing on a slippery court was a safety issue that could not be avoided.  Even though the event ended prematurely due to the rain, the bulk of the day was a total success acknowledged by all in attendance, and the important information was thoroughly disseminated to the youth in attendance.  AYDF looks forward to next years event with the hopes of reaching even more youth.