Feature story

Y-PEER in Lebanon: Youth leadership in action

29 September 2009

20090928_ypeer1_260_200.jpg
With arts and culture being pillars of the Jeux de la Francophonie, the Y-PEER network performed a dance and song written by its members about AIDS. Beirut, 28 September 2009. Credit: UNAIDS/Nabil

The UNFPA-supported Y-PEER initiative is a groundbreaking youth programme that raises HIV prevention awareness through street art, music and dance. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé had the opportunity this week to attend a dance performance by the Youth Peer Education Network during the Jeux de la Francophonie.

With arts and culture being one of the two pillars of the Jeux de la Francophonie, the Y-PEER network performed a dance and song written specifically by its members for these games. The lyrics include HIV prevention messages in Arabic, French and English, with the dancers forming a large red ribbon of red fabric at the end of the routine.

UNAIDS and our Cosponsors are committed to including young people’s leadership as an integral part of national responses including empowering young people to prevent sexual and other transmission of HIV infection among their peers.

Culture and creative expression are powerful tools for mobilizing people of all ages and I applaud the Y-PEER.

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

“UNAIDS and our Cosponsors are committed to including young people’s leadership as an integral part of national responses including empowering young people to prevent sexual and other transmission of HIV infection among their peers,” said Mr Sidibé.

“This evening’s performance was inspiring, putting these goals into action with young people creatively participating in the AIDS response in their own terms,” said Mr Sidibé after the show. “Culture and creative expression are powerful tools for mobilizing people of all ages and I applaud the Y-PEER.”

20090928_ypeer2_260_200.jpg
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé writes a message at the UNAIDS booth at Y-PEER event, Beirut, 28 September 2009. Credit: UNAIDS/Nabil

Y-PEER is a groundbreaking and comprehensive youth-to-youth initiative pioneered by UNFPA. The international network includes over 7000 young peer educators in Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. The network has adopted an approach of “edutainment”—combining education and entertainment— to communicating HIV facts. Young people work together to raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health including the facts about sexually transmitted infection and HIV prevention.

The Lebanese Y-PEER network was launched in 2008 with the support of UNFPA and through 35 peer educators, the network has reached 1000 young people all over country in just three months.

With 7,400 new HIV infections daily worldwide and young people aged 15-24 accounting for 45% of these. 

The Jeux de la Francophonie brings together sport and culture to foster dialogue and understanding among French speaking nations. It will run in Beirut until 6 October, bringing together 70 countries from all over the world.