From August 5 to September 6, 2019, Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) is convening a weeklong, intensive, non-residential community-based behavioural change health camps, to offer over 3,000 adolescents the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills on Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and Malaria prevention and life coping skill, across several communities in Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Tagged ‘SKILLZ Holiday Camps’, the youth-focused, health-themed camp which is in its 7th edition engages the energy, mind and creativity of adolescents aged 10 – 19 across select communities with an adolescent-focused programme fused with informal interactive sessions and anchored on experiential learning through football metaphors, fun and educational activities, and peer mentoring to support their transition into healthy adults.
According to YEDI’s Executive Director – Oje Ivagba in a press statement made available to the public during the weekend, the holiday season learning-and-fun programme which is supported by ExxonMobil, MAC AIDS Fund, Common Goal, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, FIFA Foundation, and Smaller World 2019 provides a platform for young people to be trained on healthy living, demystify health-related myths and misconceptions as well as curb stereotypes, during the long holiday – a high-risk period for young people who often have little supervision and few opportunities for structured activities.
“Discriminatory beliefs, practices and stereotypes about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), HIV, malaria, gender-based violence, and sexual abuse are prevalent in disadvantaged communities. This situation engenders inaccurate information, unhealthy lifestyles and destructive behaviours that threaten the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood,” he stated, noting that to address these gaps, there was the need for grassroots-targeted interventions to provide at-risk adolescents with comprehensive and accurate information on their life and health skills, while correcting stereotypes and misconceptions that affect their ability to make positive life decisions.
On her part, YEDI’s Programmes Director Tomisin Adeoye noted that the objectives of the holiday programme were to improve adolescent sexual and reproductive health knowledge and behaviours, proffer solutions to health-related concerns and challenges affecting adolescents through safe spaces, engender youth self-actualization through heightened self-confidence, positive self-esteem and sense of responsibility, promoting a culture of health-seeking behaviours and uptake of testing services to reduce the spread of diseases. “At the end of the programme, participants will be empowered to contribute to safer communities through recognition and elimination of sexual abuse, stigmatization and gender-based violence; make informed decisions, and serve as game-changers in inspiring peers”, she noted.
According to Adeoye, the camps which run for 8hours per day for 5 days at each location, are hinged on a learning model that leverages a football-based curriculum, structured by age and gender, which builds young people’s health and life skills knowledge assets, facilitate their access to health and social services, and support their adherence to treatment and positive protective behaviours. “The participants also have access to voluntary HIV testing and counselling services, linkage to further care and support and an opportunity for their parents to attend a graduation ceremony on Friday”, she added.
She explained that participants of the camps experience a series of exciting activities that engage them for the whole day which are handled by trained volunteers who serve as Coaches. “Some of the activities include physical exercises, bed-net demonstrations, talent hunt and exhibition; quiz competition; and a football tournament aimed at advancing fair-play,” she noted, adding that locations and specific dates were available on YEDI’s website – www.yedi.ng.