International Youth Day 2015: “ Inspiring Youth Civic Engagement Is Not A One Time Effort”

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The home is reckoned as the very first institution a child is formed. In essence, civic engagement begins when parents assign roles to children in the home to ensure that everyone contributes their quota to building a peaceful and comfortable home. Civic engagement also occurs at the work place when employers and employees outline individual responsibilities for spurring the growth and development of the company. Essentially, every action or inaction weighs heavily on the scale of improvement and every man; woman or child is accountable for consistently promoting progress.

As the 5th year of the International Youth Day ushers us into a period of recognizing and celebrating youth, every quarter around the world will stand to showcase the bountiful opportunities available through channels young people can maximize to take action on issues, first in their locale and by extension, the global community. It projects the unifying power of civic engagement, youth empowerment and civics education under the 2015 theme “Youth Civic Engagement” as declared by the United Nations.

With this year’s, international youth day, expectations will once again be on a high. Politically, socially, economically, morally, the society waits expectantly for young energetic individuals, who will engage better in the affairs of their communities.

How do you develop and engage such youth? That difference is what LEAP and billions of others around the world are advocating for today.

As an organization, LEAP Africa creates lasting and systematic change that fosters collaboration and collective impact.

Kuje Senior Secondary School of Agboju community, Amuwo, in Lagos State was one of the schools introduced to LEAP’s Youth Development Training Programme (YDTP) in the 2014/2015 school year. Through engaging classroom discussions, the students learnt life and leadership skills. One of the important lessons is teaching them how leadership is about taking action and proffering innovative solutions to problems within their community.

The lessons learned impelled them to take on the singular task of leading the provision of clean drinking water for residents and traders within their community as identified by the students.

In the past, access to clean water had been elusive in Agboju.  Due to frequent and ill-managed use, the water well had become contaminated, thus posing health risks to the community.

The YDTP trainees who are SSI students decided to end the absence of viable clean water in the community . To do this, the students identified a water channel within the community and mapped out a central location for the construction of a public tap. They partnered with the Lagos State Water Corporation to use the identified water channel to supply water to the proposed public tap and on July 6th, 2015 with the support of the Agboju community and Lagos State Water Corporation, a public tap was set up. It currently provides over 150 people with clean water daily, free of any charges or costs.

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The Agboju water project is just one of several change projects implemented by student beneficiaries of the YDTP programme in 2015. Other projects implemented by the student beneficiaries include; A Zebra crossing project at a central business district in Agidingbi Ikeja to provide safe means of crossing for pedestrians, free eye tests and glasses for market traders at Olaleye market, Somolu Lagos amongst others.

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According to Margaret Post in the Havard Family Research Project, youth participation has become a critical component of new efforts to renew the civic fabric of our communities for the 21st century.

This practice done consistently and with respect for the views and opinions they project, can bridge the gap and encourage valuable contributions to social change efforts in schools, communities across the continent. While we think about how apt this theme is, we are not unmindful of the challenges that come with it, because in order to engage meaningfully with the youth, one must be especially committed to working with them and learning from them.

At least 80 percent of our programmes are targeted at young people between 18- 35 years. Ultimately LEAP develops a group of young people that can effectively articulate their ideas, build healthy relationships and preserve the tradition of fixing problems even before they exacerbate.

Through the YDTP programme, LEAP is training young people to be leaders NOW! By equipping them with the skills to take responsibility for the growth and development of their communities as well as themselves.

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