Nigerian youth leverage creativity for social change

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“The moon moves slowly, but by the daybreak, it has crossed the sky.” This quote from the stage play For the Love of Country, performed at LEAP Africa’s Creativity Workshop for secondary schools students captures the essence of Social Innovators Programme and Awards (SIPA) – youth across Nigeria collectively working towards a better Nigeria.

On November 13, 2014 LEAP hosted youth to workshops and an awards night to mark its Social Innovators Programme and Awards at City Hall in Lagos. The SIPA celebrates the leadership, creativity and civic engagement of Nigerian youth who take on social challenges in their local communities by crafting innovative solutions. Each year, LEAP inducts 20 social entrepreneurs into the programme and supports them with training and mentoring aimed at enabling their initiatives to be more impactful.

The day began with workshops for students, teachers and social innovators respectively aimed at encouraging leadership,LMP_0362 creativity and problem solving in their respective spheres. Students were engaged with assembling robots using LEGO sets and playing chess as a way of developing strategic thinking, problem solving and leadership skills. The workshops were followed by the stage play, which depicted Nigeria’s political history touching on the values of leadership, patriotism and ethnic diversity. Cynthia Moka from Dowen College, Lekki got a clearer understanding of Nigeria’s history and was inspired to be civically engaged viewing opportunities to change Nigeria positively.

Later that evening LEAP hosted the SIPA Awards night, an entertaining and inspiring celebration of young change makers. In addition to recognizing 10 outstanding SIP Fellows from the previous year, the 2014 set of 20 SIP fellows were inducted. The keynote speaker, Alex Okosi, the Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), Africa spoke about his personal experience in creating a “Re-imagined Africa”, articulating values for a new AFRICA; Accountable, First-time winners, Respectful, Innovative, Collaborative and Accessible

One of the 2013 SIP fellows, Chinwe Laura Nwosu, founder of Laurel Personality Development supports young ladies from low income families to become meaningful contributors to society, says the fellowship exposed her to training which gave direction to her passion. “It exposed me to possibilities and encouraged me to set standards for myself. I now understand the importance of cultivating a positive culture at LPD.”

DSC_1350 Another SIP fellow and outstanding awardee, Bunmi Otegbade, co-founder of Generation Enterprise (GEN) an initiative which supports youth entrepreneurs through a business incubator system, described the fellowship year as “lots of trainings and social networking”. Pleased about his award, he said “As a social entrepreneur, you sell your reputation, so the more recognition you get, the better work you do.”

The new SIP inductees, all under the age of 35 are budding social entrepreneurs will receive training over the course of one year. Joshua Ihejimaraizu, founder Health Book Project, an initiative which leverages mobile technology for public health is one of the 2014 SIP inductees. Joshua looks forward to receiving business mentorship and training in managing finances. He hopes to learn how to create wealth from his solution to public health challenges.

LEAP also recognized outstanding youth trainers who successfully delivered its youth leadership curriculum under the YouthDSC_1435 Development Training Programme (YDTP) in secondary schools. These trainers supported by LEAP and its partners are making lasting changes in their school as well as churches, mosques and local communities driven by passion and commitment for youth development.   Outstanding trainers received gifts from LEAP supporters including bicycles aimed at promoting healthy living. Jonah Eromon, one of the YDTP trainers runs Next Generation Leader was evidently surprised by the recognition. He says his passion for learning and development is his driving force for equipping youth with life and leadership skills. His focus with young people is on changing their mind set and guiding them to make smart choices.

From start to end, the audience was captivated by the blend of entertainment and inspiring stories. By encouraging youth to leverage entrepreneurship for social impact, LEAP is moving Nigeria slowly and steadily towards a new dawn.

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