The potential capacity of children to confront the HIV/AIDS pandemic is rarely considered. Interventions to address the impact of the pandemic on children and adolescents commonly target only their vulnerabilities. We evaluated the Young Citizens Program, an adolescent-centered health promotion curriculum designed to increase self- and collective efficacy through public education and community mobilization across a municipality in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. The theoretical framework for the program integrates aspects of human capability, communicative action, social ecology and social cognition. The design consists of a cluster randomized-controlled trial (CRCT). Fifteen pairs of matched geopolitically defined neighborhoods of roughly 2000-4000 residents were randomly allocated to treatment and control arms. Within each neighborhood cluster, 24 randomly selected adolescents, ages 9-14, deliberated on topics of social ecology, citizenship, community health and HIV/AIDS competence. Building on their acquired understanding and confidence, they dramatized the scientific basis and social context of HIV infection, testing and treatment in their communities over a 28-week period. The curriculum comprised 5 modules: Group Formation, Understanding our Community, Health and our Community, Making Assessments and Taking Action in our Community and Inter-Acting in our Community. Adolescent participants and adult residents representative of their neighborhoods were surveyed before and after the intervention; data were analyzed using multilevel modeling. In treatment neighborhoods, adolescents increased their deliberative and communicative efficacy and adults showed higher collective efficacy for children. Following the CRCT assessments, the control group received the same curriculum. In the Kilimanjaro Region, the Young Citizens Program is becoming recognized as a structural, health promotion approach through which adolescent self-efficacy and child collective efficacy are generated in the context of civil society and local government.
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