Adolescents and Youth
Maharashtra state has nearly 20 million adolescents and youth. This age accompanies wide spread of adventure, school drop outs, sexual activeness, early marriage, teenage pregnancy and exposure to peer pressure. Lack of scientific information on sexual and reproductive health with the youth and adolescents is a major health constrains leading to unhealthy behavior and associated physical, psychological and social morbidity. One of our studies in Gadchiroli showed that 46.7% of the unmarried girls examined had sexual contact. There was a high prevalence of gynecological disease among the rural women. A common culture of tribal to have live-in and pre-marital sexual relationships resulted in teenage pregnancy, abortions, miscarriages and unwanted pregnancies. Physical discomforts were backed by superstition. A woman with white discharge was tagged as having an extra marital affair. A menstruating woman was supposed to stay in a hut situated outside the village for 4-5 days till her flow ceases. Social and physiological issues such as unmarried motherhood, reproductive health problems such as related to menstruation, misconceptions of friendship, love and relationship, sexual abuse and violence as well as STIs / STD can be added to list.
With 20 million adolescent youth in Maharashtra waiting to enter into reproductive life, Adolescent Sex Education became the need of the hour
It was within this context that SEARCH started the Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in 1995 - Tarunyabhan - which literally means awareness about adolescence. We serve school and college going young men and women from grade eight to final year of graduation. A three day camp is conducted in schools, colleges and villages, in various parts of Maharashtra
Tarunyabhan workshop answers the dire need to increase awareness about reproductive and sexual health and sexuality among young adults so as to empower them with information to conduct themselves as responsible citizens of the country. Conduct co-learning of students, both girls and boys, ensuring that a healthy environment is developed within the society where there is mutual respect for both genders
The sessions have been carefully designed by Dr. Rani Bang, focusing on relation with parents, information on sexual health, talks on the differences between love and infatuation and risks of premarital sexual relations
Program for Tribal Youth
SEARCH’s youth sports program was started in the year 2000 with the tribal villages in order to promote health through sports among tribal youth. Over the years participation has increased. In year 2000, when this program was started, only 15 teams participated in the annual games. Now, over 200 teams participate in these games.
Tribal youth sports
In its endeavor to improve tribal health and support their development, SEARCH has successfully encouraged the participation of tribal youth in most of its activities. It has activated the existing Yuvak Mandal, encouraged the formation of new ones and sought support of the youth. SEARCH has rightly recognized the talents and potentials of the tribal youth especially in sports. Over the last twenty years, the organization has started conducting different sports activities among the tribal youth, e.g. volleyball and kabaddi. As per the division of the area of work, the sports competitions are also divided in 2 divisions – Dhanora and Karwafa Divisions. For each year, a particular village from each of the region shoulders the responsibility of hosting the sports competitions. Several teams from each of these regions then get together at the pre-decided host village and matches are held up to the final levels in village. In the year 2018-19, 203 teams, 730 youth from 48 tribal villages participated in the games. A health check up camp was conducted by the mobile medical unit for the youth who participated in the games and their blood pressure and hemoglobin levels were checked. They were also screened for sickle cell disease. Those who had sickle cell diseases were provided counseling regarding importance of checking the sickle cell status of their life partner.