Teaching Teens To Lead: 17 Year Old Tobenna Oduah Shares Insights To Spring Youth Into Action

In the past, the concept of “leadership” for a lot of young people means an “older”person in authority; but that is changing. And it’s having a ripple effect. True leadership knows no age. Today, leaders can even be kids!

17 year old Tobenna Oduah shares an inspiring story of his experience at our summer leadership programme for teens. Read full text below:

Walking next to my only hope of good sight and judgment, I was guided downstairs, blindfolded by my partner. Every “1 more step, then turn left” and “lift your leg higher at this point; we’re close to a curb!” was my only chance of getting to the soccer field safely. This was one of the many engaging activities I participated in at LEAP Africa’s LEAD The Way (LTW) programme for teens.

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#LTWSummer2016: Tobenna Uduah receiving his LTW certificate from Mrs. Uche Pedro, Founder, BellaNaija.

My experience at the LTW Summer 2016 programme was nothing less than an educative and insightful one. We were about 30 teenage participants who were lectured on what it means to be a true leader. In addition, we were involved in different activities throughout the course of the programme, which stimulated our leadership instincts and brought us to understand who a true leader is.

For instance, an edifying activity for me, which I talked about earlier, was during the Blind-fold Challenge. The participants were put in groups of 2, and each one was blindfolded and guided by his partner from the 2nd floor of the school we were in, down to the soccer field. At the soccer field, the roles were switched, and the other partners were guided back upstairs. I was put in the position of both a leader and a follower, and consequently learned that good communication is important for effective leadership and followership.

_mg_1376Moreover, the other teenagers and I had extensive lectures regarding the core values of a true leader, and there are way more than I will probably mention here. However, the first and one of the most important lessons in my opinion was about connecting to our inner selves. Mrs. Chinenye Etoniru put forth a compelling argument that leadership in itself requires self-awareness. In addition, she contrasted between one’s outer self and inner self, and how people these days, especially the teenagers and children, present their wrong self to the wrong audience – some prefer to show their inner selves to friends rather than their parents. This taught us how to be true to our parents and ourselves at all times.

Another lesson I will make mention of is on the act of leadership. One highlight I took from this lesson is the fact that there is no good leader or bad leader; a leader is a leader. This means that anyone you regards as a “bad leader” was never a leader in the first place; leadership is about improving the people around you and making positive changes in whatever community you find yourself in. Besides, we were taught that leaders are not necessarily born but are made, hence anyone can be a leader. One can be a true leader by being ambitious, focused, fair in judgment, honest at all times, and creative.

Summing up the other lessons: We had a session which taught as that a leader defines his goals clearly and takes the steps to reach those goals; Crafting one’s personal mission statement is therefore essential in guiding one’s daily life and ultimately leading one to accomplish his/her goals. Finally, I learned the importance of being a patriotic citizen of your nation.

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To put everything we were taught into practice, on the second to the last day of the programme, July 28th, 2016, we were taken to the Paradigm Initiative of Nigeria (PIN) in Ajegunle, a social undertaking with the goal to “Connect Nigerian youths with ICT enabled opportunities.” Each teenager from LEAP Africa was assigned to a person at the centre to teach him/her how to effectively use Microsoft Word. I personally taught my “student” how to copy and paste using keyboard functions, create tables, insert and edit images, and use borderlines and designs. Honestly, it felt good to make a difference because we learned that any support we offered could, no matter the scale, be worth it in the end.

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All together, I interacted with people with different perspectives, engaged in group activities and discussions, and ate a lot (the food was fantastic!). On the last day of the LEAD The Way Summer 2016 programme, after everyone was grouped into 5 different groups, we all gave presentations on the topics gotten from the sustainable development goals, and my group spoke on “Clean Water and Sanitation”. Although we came last in the competition, we sure did have lots of fun in putting together the pieces of our presentation.

Now I am about to go to college, but I sure will try to find a way to attend or even conduct such a wonderful leadership programme. I am ready to be who I am, I am ready to give what I can, and I am ready to be a true leader.

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Tobenna Oduah graduated from The White Dove Schools (#classof2016).  Follow Tobenna on Twitter @nna_Tobe

 Applications are now open for the LEAD The Way Programme 2017. Click here to apply for LTW Easter 2017.

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