Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) with support from FIFA Foundation recently conducted a one-week free holiday camp in Abuja.
Tagged SKILLZ Holiday Camp’, the initiative utilised age-appropriate and gender-sensitive curriculum that combines soccer metaphors, Fair-Play soccer and experimental activities with high impact health information that equip adolescents with knowledge and skills to challenge stereotypes, cultural barriers, gender misconceptions and risky behaviours that hinder their successful transition into productive and healthy adults.
The camp which opened on Monday, August 6th at LEA Primary School, Zuba, admitted over 120 adolescent girls aged 13-19 and were engaged with a girls-only curriculum called SKILLZ Girl project.
At the Zuba girls-only camp, the curriculum was delivered by female young adults educators called ‘SKILLZ Coaches’ in small groups of about 10 participants per coach. Participants’ energy, mind and creativity were engaged through fun, sports and educational activities with high impact health information in a safe and interactive atmosphere.
Participants at the camp learnt relevant skills to better protect themselves and make informed and healthy self-determined life decisions. They also accessed free HIV Counselling and Testing with parental consent for those below 18.
According to Victor Nzenwa-Orji, YEDI’s Regional Coordinator (Northern Region), the FIFA Foundation-supported SKILLZ Girl project which started in 2017 is an adolescent health project for girls between ages 13 and 19. “It centres on HIV prevention, sexuality and life skills. It supports young women and girls participating in the project to better protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and make self-determined life decisions, using football metaphors, languages, fair-play soccer, and peer-led structured intervention,” he noted.
“This is the first time a 5-day camp approach is organized in Abuja and this is the first phase. The second phase which is a continuation of other programs of YEDI will commence on the 13th and end on the 17th in L.E.A primary school Dutse-Alhaji and would be for both boys and girls, while the last phase will follow immediately and would be an all-boys camp,” he added.
One of the camp coordinators, Chinasa Ani, while addressing parents and guardians of participants at the closing ceremony expressed gratitude to them for allowing their wards to participate in the camp. “Thank you all for granting YEDI the opportunity to impact your girl child positively. We had fun together, played fair-play soccer and learnt about our changing bodies together”, she explained.
Miss Bisola Asala, one of the SKILLZ Coaches while speaking to the press at the closing ceremony stated that the SKILLZ Girl programme was an opportunity to impact the lives of adolescent girls within her community. “I feel fulfilled and grateful to YEDI for providing me with this platform and opportunity to impact adolescent girls in Zuba community of Abuja. The turnout of girls was commendable. We had more than the capacity we expected which shows that parents really understood the power of information and knowledge”.
A participant, Miss Sherifat Suleiman while sharing her camp experience with journalists said she learnt how to calculate her menstrual cycle for the first time at the camp. “I am so happy to participate in the SKILLZ Girl camp. My coach taught me how to calculate my menstrual cycle and I’m going straight to teach my younger sister. It is my first time to go to a holiday camp. I came early for the five days because each day was fun packed leaving you with no choice than to look forward to the next day.
“I have been empowered to know my rights, my sexual and reproductive health, shun risky behaviours that will expose me to contracting HIV and STIs and how to reach my goals in life of which my most important goal is becoming a medical doctor”, she added.
She expressed gratitude to her coach for mentoring her throughout the five-day period. “Permit me to say a special ‘thank you’ to my intelligent, beautiful and wonderful coach: Coach Adorable. I promise that memories and lessons learnt from you and this camp will stay with me forever and will help me become a better person and a change agent to my community”, she enthused.