As the Ashe Company kicks off the eighth season of TABS TALK LIVE, Faybian Grizzle, communications coordinator of the group, says it has increased sexual health awareness in Jamaica.
"The TABS Project on a monthly basis, through the use of TABS TALK LIVE and other social/digital media activities reaches over 25,000 young people each month and engages directly with at least 5,000 on average of that number. This says to us that our messages on a healthy lifestyle on all fronts; sexually, relationally, financially and physically are far reaching and have a significant impact on our target audiences. Our mandate also includes providing free health/STI testing services to said population, and on average, per month, we provide those services to 100 plus persons, which for us is a good impact," he told the Jamaica Observer.
An official launch was held at the Emancipation Park in St Andrew last Monday.
The company, in partnership with Ministry of Health and Wellness and funded by international donors such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Global Fund (GF), launched the TABS (Talk About Your Business Safely) project in 2011, a text line where disenfranchised youth and members of vulnerable populations could text counsellors to ask questions and talk about issues affecting them in areas of sexual and reproduction health.
Grizzle added that the launch lived up to its billing.
"The launch was very successful, especially with it being our first at such a large scale. Approximately 200-300 persons turned out from the halls at UWI we invited such as Elsa Leo Rhynie (Towers) Hall, Mary Seacole Hall and Irvine Hall, as well as people from the general public," he said.
Grizzle further said the pre-show activities, which saw a performance by the Ashe Group, was the high point of the evening's proceedings.
"The highlight of the launch for me was the pre-show activities involving the partners and sponsors, who set up booths to display their goods and services and to participate in the show time activities for TABS TALK LIVE. It was generally a very good energy from the beginning of the day, with our audience, patrons and guests accessing the services such as the free COVID-19 vaccination, blood pressure and blood sugar checks and free HIV/syphilis testing, and then to actively participate as well as, in the show time activities, caused for a well-received and engaging day," he added.
Started in 1993 by Paulette Bellamy and Joseph Robinson, the Ashe Company has established itself as one of Jamaica's premier ensembles.