One of the most powerful aspects of Grassroot Soccer’s SKILLZ+ program is the encouragement provided by SKILLZ+ Coaches.  These HIV+ role models identify closely with the issues faced by HIV+ youth participants, creating a learning environment that is empowering, safe and inclusive.

Maggie, a SKILLZ+ participant in Zambia, explains the ways in which the program has impacted her. “I’m learning a lot of things … how to achieve goals, how to make your moves, and how to take your medication on time.” Although she’s only been enrolled in the program for a week, Maggie’s perspective on the future is already evolving. “There was something that was always troubling me a lot. I was thinking that when I grow up I will never be married because I am HIV+ but I find out since the day I come here that although you can be HIV+ you can be able to marry.”

At 15, she’s keeping her sights set on her future goal of becoming a teacher.  When asked for her advice to others facing similar circumstances, Maggie encourages them “not worry because you’re [HIV+],” reminding them they can do anything their peers can – and sometimes, they can do them better.

The impact of SKILLZ+ on youth like Maggie is made possible through the generous support of MAC AIDS Fund, Comic Relief, the Bohemian Foundation, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.