THE Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) 7 held its First Regional Youth Leaders Virtual Conference on June 18, 2020.
The activity was spearheaded by Popcom 7 Director Bruce N. Ragas and Assistant Regional Director Darlynn S. Remolino, and it was participated by 62 peer leaders and facilitators. This was the first online conference dedicated for concerns on the Popcom Adolescent Health and Development Program and the utility of the Popcom helpline amid the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, pre-vaccine period and ongoing community quarantine in Central Visayas.
Facilitated by Michael Pacios, the meeting discussed the concerns of the youth in Central Visayas, especially on physical mobility, food and nutrition, relationship, family, health, social distancing and Covid-19.
The orientation on the Popcom 7 Helpline was discussed by Remolino. The helpline is now available to clients in Central Visayas from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Areas of concern include family planning, adolescent health and development, sexuality and gender-based violence. The other areas are about preventing one from getting sexually transmitted infections and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (Aids).
The helpline numbers include the Popcom 7 Regional Center landline 236-4963 and dedicated cellphone numbers of responders: 09369726651 (family planning), 09258774110 (adolescent health and development) and 09173079355 (gender-based violence).
The online orientation for the Popcom 7 Helpline intends to educate the youth leaders about their contribution in the creation of a helpline directory for referrals concerning several youth concerns in line with adolescent health development and sexuality, including the prevention of teenage pregnancy, HIV and Aids.
For example, in dealing with teenage pregnancy, youth clients are assisted by referring them to appropriate and accurate service providers. Counseling is referred to the social welfare counselors and population officers. The Popcom Helpline also has a Facebook page, and it is available for 24 hours. The Popcom Helpline has an existing manual and guidelines to follow based on the memorandum from the Popcom Central Office.
The participants in the June 18 online orientation are trained peer educators and facilitators of the Popcom 7. This means the youth leaders have gone through the ladder-like peer education training module for adolescents composed of four levels: level one—peer volunteer (open space); level two—peer facilitating (life skills); level three—peer education (adolescent sexual reproductive health); and level four—peer interpersonal communication.
Many of the participants are active volunteers in their respective teen centers. A teen center is a social and recreational center intended primarily for adolescents and youth and run by the youth. This is the focal point and safe space for providing factual and age-appropriate information and services on sexuality and reproductive health for young people through workshops, counseling and trainings, among others.
The center also supports opportunities for the youth to develop their physical, social, emotional and cognitive abilities, and experience achievement, leadership, enjoyment, friendship and recognition.
There are 21 teen centers in the region and five high schools in Mandaue City with adolescent health and development corners.