Kelly Rowland honors Kenyan recipients of Staying Alive Awards

Mumbai: R&B singer-songwriter and MTV Staying Alive special ambassador Kelly Rowland, MTV senior vice president and Staying Alive Foundation executive director Georgia Arnold announced the Kenyan recipients of the 2008 Staying Alive Foundation Awards.

Rowland, founder member of the greatest female group Destiny’s Child, revealed the 2008 grantees during her trip this week to visit Kenyan projects and grantees funded by the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. The global charity’s mission is to encourage and support young people who are involved in HIV and AIDS awareness, education and prevention campaigns.

Staying Alive Foundation Awards are presented to individuals or groups who are relentless in their mission to encourage, educate and empower their peers in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Each Staying Alive Grant recipient receives a cash grant from the Staying Alive Foundation to enable them to realise a project associated with raising the awareness about HIV/AIDS. The Kenyan recipients of the 2008 Staying Alive Foundation Awards are:

· Kisumu Self Help Disabled Group (KSHDG) – KSHDG are the recipients of a second consecutive Staying Alive Foundation grant and will build on their current project, which aims to raise awareness on HIV among disabled youth. KSHDG will use their Staying Alive funds to help organise four community dialogue forums, conduct peer education outreaches, organize three testing promotion forums, organise peer education training for 30 disabled youths and facilitate monthly video shows.

· REPACTED (Rapid Effective Participatory Action in Community Theatre Education and Development) – Led by Collins Dennis Oduor and Dennis Kimambo, community theatre group REPACTED, also receiving their second grant from the Staying Alive Foundation, will build on their existing project to focus on educating youth in prisons and sex workers through the use of their ‘magnet theatre’ approach. REPACTED has committed to training 75 ‘change agents’ (peer educators), organise three youth symposiums, organising 11 community theatre outreaches with mobile testing units, creating and distributing a monthly magazine, establishing a support group and a community theatre group, and organising monthly life skill demonstration forums as well as a World AIDS Day event.

· Positive Youth Initiative (PYI) – PYI received their grant from the Staying Alive Foundation in December 2007. Set up by a group of HIV+ and – youth, PYI is training Kenyan HIV+ youth to become educators and counsellors, to develop therapy sessions for young people living with HIV, and organise dialogue forums for young people and develop their resource centres. One of the group’s main aims is to encourage young people to get tested for HIV.

Commented Rowland, "All the 2008 Staying Alive grantees should be proud of the vital function they fulfil in their communities by helping to raise the awareness about HIV/AIDS. By stressing the importance of prevention, raising awareness about the basic issues surrounding HIV and AIDS and reducing stigma associated with infection they are taking direct action to help stop the spread of the disease."

Arnold added, "We are delighted that Rowland has been able to join us in Kenya to witness and highlight the courageous and important work of groups like PYI, REPACTED and KSHDG. It is thanks to innovative grassroots projects such as these – and the impressive young people involved in them – that we can help turn the tide against the spread of HIV and AIDS."