The benefits and necessity of recreation for AIDS orphans: Through the eyes of a child
Millions of South African youth have been left behind as orphans as a result of the AIDS pandemic, turning to high risk behaviour to survive. These risk behaviours have a negative effect on their quality of life. To aggravate the problem further, most of these youths do not have access to recreation programmes and activities. The benefits obtained from recreation participation play a changing role in managing at-risk youth. The purpose of the study was to determine if recreation programmes are beneficial and a necessity for specifically AIDS orphans within a South African context, as seen from the youth’ perspectives. A qualitative research design was used. The participants were students at Thanda After-School Programme (Thanda ASP) (n=8), representative of the different programme areas offered by Thanda ASP. In-depth data collection methods were employed, using individual, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. The process resulted in two key categories: the benefits of this recreation programme and the necessity of these programmes for AIDS orphans. The participants stated that the recreation programme ensured health, emotional, social and psychological benefits to them, which therefore resulted in a better quality of life. The necessity was accentuated by the risk behaviours the youth reported before participating in the programme as well as by their need to learn and develop important skills. It is evident from the research that recreation programmes can address the problems that AIDS-orphaned youth face and that the benefits stated in the literature apply to AIDS orphans at Thanda as well.
Keywords: Recreation, leisure, HIV/AIDS, AIDS orphans, at-risk youth.