NOT JUST ABOUT THE NUMBERS...
Our 4th annual Skillz Holiday program was flagged off in Lagos on Monday August 1, 2016. It started out with a target to reach 4,000 youths in disadvantaged communities across 16 camp sites in Lagos, Ogun and Akwa Ibom States. With immense support from our funders and partners (ExxonMobil, M.A.C AIDS FUND, and other well-meaning individuals and partners), the holiday coaching and life-moulding program provided a safe space for over 5,424 young people (age 10 to 18) to learn healthy habits and be educated about prevention of endemic diseases such as Malaria and HIV/AIDS. It gave them an opportunity to acquire soft and life management skills for economic empowerment using the Grassroot Soccer curriculum that combines football drills, games and other physical activities, health education curriculum delivery, discussions and biomedical interventions, such as HIV testing and treatment.
They benefited from our HIV/AIDS & Malaria prevention education and life skills curriculum, experienced behavioural change and were empowered with healthy decision-making skills through targeted health messages. They had sessions on sexuality, life and leadership skills, including HIV and malaria prevention, soft skill acquisition like Make-up, Head-gear, Ankara Book covers, etc. They also learnt the dangers of self-medication, importance of bed nets and how to use it; relationship between cleanliness and malaria, ways of preventing/treating malaria, how to be a game-changer, etc. Every week’s activity was always rounded off with a series of events including a fair-play soccer tournament that culminated in a graduation ceremony on Friday, with parents and guardians of participants present.
WHAT WE DID DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME:
To ensure that specific messaging and life-lessons are targeted towards specific demographics (customized to suit peculiar needs of such segments), thereby creating a friendly and safe space for learning, we adopted the Mixed Camp and Girls-only approach. While the mixed camps catered to the needs of boys and girls aged 10-15, the girls-only camps were created to suit girls aged 13-18, with separate curriculums for both camp types. To further ensure that more young girls were reached, we also had the mini Girls-only Camps even in the mixed camps and Girls-only Corner to keep girls in the mixed camps engaged when their male counterparts were involved in fair-play soccer tournament. The Girls-only corner of the mixed camp is a small version of the girls-only camp, with its full curriculum.
HIGHLY IMPACTFUL EXTERNAL FACILITATORS:
This year also, some of our NGO partners and concerned Government Agencies as well as good-spirited individuals, paid us a very impactful visit by spending quality time interacting with, and teaching our participants. Some of them were: Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM), Community Advancement and Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN), Mirabel Centre, Nigerian Red Cross, Fire Service, Real Woman Foundation, and a host of others. For instance, a representative of the Mirabel Centre, a foremost sexual assault and referral centre in Lagos visited the girls-only camp; a visit that resulted in many disclosures, counselling and referrals. She spoke about rape, how to avoid and handle it, where to find help and steps
to take when one has been a victim of rape and sexual violence, among other things.Representatives of the voluntary aid body – the Nigerian Red Cross Society where on hand at many of the camps to educate participants on areas of emergency preparedness and response, first-aid training and disaster risk reduction. Real Woman Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering women and children economically and socially through seminars, skills training, rehabilitation programs, etc. visited the Girls-only camps to deliver sessions on sexual and reproductive health, and had Counselling sessions with them. Representatives from the Lagos State Fire service where also on hand to empower participants with fire protection, community safety, and general safety tips.
VOLUNTEERS FROM M.A.C AIDS FUND
Volunteers from M.A.C AIDS Fund (manufacturers of MAC Cosmetics and a major funder of our programs) visited 3 of the Girls-only camps and spent quality time talking to our participants. Apart from teaching them the fundamentals of Make-up, they also spoke to them about relationships, career choices, and a wide range of female-related issues. The participants were educated, inspired and empowered with basic make-up Skillz.