Description of Program
What is the intervention/program/project?
Gravity is a volunteer leadership program to create community ambassadors for AIDS Calgary. Volunteers attend a six-week training program for two hours per week facilitated by AIDS Calgary and partnering agency Banff Life. In the first three weeks, participants gain skills in HIV/HCV/STI prevention, sexual health education, team building, leadership, facilitation and group dynamics through art therapy and role playing. After three weeks, participants are divided into groups of two and are empowered to organize their own HIV awareness event with a $300 budget. The first hour of each subsequent class and the last full session are spent designing their project/event. Although the two groups compete for a backcountry camping trip, both are given the opportunity to attend the trip. The participants receive a certificate at the end of the six weeks and conduct their project/event in the month following the training program. Projects have included a flash mob, a video, and an outreach program in the nightclubs where condoms were distributed and leaders wore shirts with glow-in-the-dark prevention messages.
What is the goal/objective of the intervention/program/project?
1. To empower individuals to develop leadership skills and skills in HIV/HCV/STI prevention and safer sex negotiation and healthy relationships;
2. To develop ambassadors who present unique/creative HIV/HCV/STI prevention information.
Why was the intervention/program/project originally developed?
Youth adults form the largest population group in Banff. Many people had been coming into the office wanting to volunteer and to make a difference in their community while meeting other people. There is no community centre in Banff or the nearby town of Canmore, and AIDS Calgary hoped to create a program that would bring people together to meet this need. From there, the organization developed the content and process for the six-week educational training program.
How was the intervention/program/project developed?
The program was based on a campaign in Australia. The campaign featured a competition. The winning candidate was offered $120,000 to blog for one year. Individuals were asked to submit a video explaining why they would be the best candidate for the job. The campaign accomplished more in terms of awareness-raising than the same budget would have if the organization had produced its own awareness-raising materials. AIDS Calgary adapted this idea in order to generate attention in Banff.
OrganizationAIDS Calgary Awareness Association
Name: Ken Fierheller
Position: Project Manager
Web site: http://www.aidscalgary.org/
Project ResourcesTo be developed in coming months
Resources for Program
One AIDS Calgary staff and one staff from Banff Life.
Support provided by a community foundation.
DurationOngoing. One cycle of Gravity requires six weeks for training and one month for execution.
- Activities and number of participants.
- Participant feedback.
Evaluation TermsAudience/client feedback and satisfaction, Output tracking
- Bonding the group at the beginning builds momentum, more motivation and stronger results. The program is considering a ‘retreat-style’ structure. The training would be conducted in one weekend and the events would executed in the weeks following. This may be a better way to encourage group bonding and keep people engaged.
- The importance of unique and creative ways to disseminate HIV/HCV/STI prevention information in a peer-to-peer and experiential context.
- The importance of an incentive (such as a back country camping trip) for engaging volunteers.
- Language barriers. In the first group, approximately 80% of the participants were learning English as a second language. It was difficult to facilitate using creative language, with some participants.
- After the initial six weeks of training, the group did not have a structure within which to meet. It became more difficult for them to execute their event and conflict arose. This challenge highlighted the importance of creating a structure after the six weeks of training sessions to allow for event planning.