Often times I see the world as an eco system where everything is interconnected and the grand themes trickle down to affect the little ones. Through the course of my career as a story teller both on radio and in writing, I have always had a deep affection for the smaller stories, those that are about the individual, those that poke and inspect the microcosm. This is because these people, their stories and lives embody the triumphs and failures of the system. They become the aftermath and consequences of both the decisions and non-decisions made from the top.
This was why as a part of the Global shapers community (an initiative of the World Economic Forum) our project ran under the theme of teenage mentor-ship. We collaborated with Unveiling Africa Foundation; an education not for profit focused on creating the model teen that excels in academics and is proactive in social change. Like many other nations Nigerians have experienced a lot of issues and still are. But rather that allow the systemic frustrations naturally produce more arm chair commentators, we decided it was time to empower and engage our teenagers with critical thinking and problem solving skills for social action and change. A few weeks ago, we has sessions at two different schools. Supreme Education Foundation and Corona Secondary School
As self organised groups and shapers serving as facilitators, our teens would identify the problems and issues they were experiencing based on everyday life.
Yes!! the issues rolled through the gamut. From traffic, to what they described as an infringement of their freedom of expression, to unsatisfactory teaching standards and less time for sports activities and national infrastructure issues.
We discovered that compared to most of us, these teens were smarter, more articulate, more exposed, more aware, more confident and even more knowledgeable than we ever where in our time.
We spent over 4 hours brainstorming realistic and sustainable solutions with step by step strategies to solve the issues of sport, freedom of expression and laboratory infrastructure. They seemed excited, they weren’t just talked at or spoken to or made to sit and listen to boring keynote speeches but they were a part of the process. They would eventually vote on which one of the issues they identified was of paramount importance and unbeknown to them, that would be their group project.
As the youth bulge seems to be bursting at the seams, the rate of youth unemployment is souring at a similar pace. This was why an interactive career session was equally as important, Identifying their passions and plans but most importantly equipping them with a sense of purpose in reference to their careers and ambitions. Teaching them that their career choices aren’t just about their own personal satisfaction but came with a responsibility to innovate, create and blaze their own trails making it just a little warmer for the generation after.
Some of the teens wanted to be geologists, economists, animators, lawyers, fashion designers and business people
After the session, and returning to a more reflective state, i realised this project went beyond engagement and galvanising young people to become more proactive in social action but it was also about remodeling values and culture. moving from the individualist mentality to the collective and steering young people towards a collective sense of ownership of their communities and in essence their lives.