Do you love yoga?
It was a scorching Saturday, with the heat well above 31 degrees.
Stephen Quilacio could have enjoyed his weekend at the beach; instead, he was sweating on stage facing hundreds of students, all while his arms and legs were bent.
Wearing a red tank top and short shorts, Stephen held a steady hum and a cool head. His audience followed in silence.
Today, Stephen is teaching yoga to college students and young professionals who have one thing in common – their passion for raising HIV and AIDS awareness.
It was a mesmerizing view: a schoolyard full of bodies in bold and swift movements.
The yoga session is part of Save the Children’s HIV and AIDS awareness program. In partnership with The Red Whistle, we organized an interactive and informative race which aims to mobilize the youth to support the HIV advocacy.
Stephen began practicing yoga in 2006 in his hometown Cagayan de Oro.
During his stint in Manila, he volunteered at “Yoga for Life,” a community of advocates promoting yoga as a complementary therapy for people living with HIV. Upon his return to CDO, he began using yoga as a means to further his advocacy.
“Yoga can be used to empower people living with HIV,” Stephen told Save the Children.
He also teaches incorporates yoga to his method of teaching HIV and AIDS prevention. His students then pass on their skills and knowledge to others.
The Philippines has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world.
In the past 30 years, more than 1,000 of the country’s reported HIV cases are among Filipinos aged 19 and younger, the Department of Health found.
Hence the need to engage the Filipino youth in efforts to raise HIV and AIDS awareness.
Save the Children met Stephen during our campaign in Cagayan de Oro, which successfully educated hundreds of Kagayanons. Through our local partners, we also conducted free and voluntary HIV test, accompanied by counselling sessions.
We also held events in Zambales, Puerto Princessa and Taguig. Hopefully, we can also soon reach your city. Together, let’s change and save more lives.
It all starts with a small step; like Stephen, you can support the HIV advocacy in your own little way. Reach One, Test One, Save One!