Grassroot Soccer is gearing up to launch an exciting research initiative—a randomized controlled trial (RTC). For the study, we will compare schools that receive our GRS Generation Skillz curriculum (“intervention” schools) with those that do not receive the curriculum (“control” schools). Doing so will allow us to evaluate the effect of the program on participants’ attitudes, knowledge, and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS. Thirty schools are being recruited from Soweto (15 “intervention” and 15 “control”), along with fifteen from GRS Port Elizabeth and fifteen from GRS Cape Town. The study will take place over the course of three years. Zak Kaufman (graduate of Dartmouth and long involved in GRS) is leading the study and will be using the results to write his PhD in Epidemiology for the London School of Tropics and Medicine. This study is the first long-term RCT that any Sport for Development organization has ever launched.
Soweto will have two research teams working on collecting data, each made up of a team leader, an assistant researcher, and two data administrators. I will be one of the two assistant researchers, working closely with Team Leader Goody Tshabalala. Goody and I have started recruiting schools, having spoken with representatives from 33 schools so far. We’re trying to recruit schools for the study now, before the holidays, in order to give schools enough advance notice as the study will begin at the end of January 2012.
We hosted two focus group discussions (FGDs) with graduates from our Generation Skillz program at Fons Luminous Secondary School to get their opinions on our plans for administering the questionnaires. During one of the discussions, participants had a chance to try out the questionnaires, which are administered on Android phones—very cool. They gave us very useful feedback.
Also in preparation for the RCT, we hosted a Generation Skillz Training of Coaches (TOC)/RCT Prep workshop at the Nike Training Center. JMo (a GRS intern from last year) and Mr. D from the curriculum team in Cape Town joined our Master Coach, Tumi, to lead the workshop. Generation Skillz—the curriculum we will be using for the RCT—is designed specifically for high school students. The site’s 27 coaches, 3 CPCs and Bengy and I discussed the RCT, HIV/AIDS, Gender-Based Violence, and other topics pertaining to the curriculum. The coaches gave each other feedback during Teach-Backs. They’ll have a chance to put their new “Skillz” into action during a Holiday Camp we’re hosting next week at Tiyani Combined School. I LOVE holiday camps even though they’re the most hectic interventions we run, so I’m really looking forward to next week.