Taking Action – Engaging Teenagers in Global Development
Taking Action – Engaging Teenagers in Global Development
The maiden edition of the SAFE Conference held on the 16th of November 2019. The conference hosted about 50 teenage leaders with 54% of them being girls and 46% boys. The average age of the participants was 14. The conference featured 11 facilitators and 10 volunteers. The keynote address was delivered by Engr. Doris Oji, a Business Development Executive with Sahara Energy Group. She set the conference on a high note by inspiring the audience as she gives an account of her teenage experience- challenges, struggles and victories. Other speakers were drawn from ICT, Law, Finance, Engineering, Health, Sports, Journalism and Creative Media sectors. After 5 hours of learning, fun, exercises and bonding, participants went home with action plans and shared a lot of impact testimonies.
Mr. Chinonso Amaechi, Moderator of the program, opened the conference by welcoming the teachers and students of invited schools by 9’o clock. Miss Grace Anyiam proceeded to give the welcome address. She talked about the vision and mission of Sozo Networks, also about what S.A.F.E stands for and how the conference has so far impacted teenagers across Nigeria. In her words “we are in the 21st Century, when teenagers should be taking and leading action for Global Development and we are excited to empower you with the knowledge and network to drive this change starting in your communities.” Miss Grace also defined networking to the students and urged them to network with one another before the keynote session commenced.
Miss Doris Orji, an Engineer and Business Management Executive with Sahara Energy, a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and an awardee of the Bath School of Management Global Skills who has managed business development for several leading 1 multinational organizations.
She gave a keynote address on the theme of the conference: Taking Action: Teenagers in Global Development. She shared her teenage story with the students on how she was able to rise over the stereotypical belief that females are meant for certain activities and course. As an Engineer, she shared challenges she faced and overcame being one of the few females in her department during universities days. She mentioned how having a vision board is important for achieving set goals and urged the students to emulate similar practice. She talked about the sustainable development goals and how they should start taking actions through the SDGs which will benefit their communities and the Nation as a whole. Also, she listed skills they should have as teenagers which will continue to position them for greatness in the world as they age. These skills include good networking and communication skill, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
She suggested different organizations the students can join in the society which will improve their influence and impact. Her session was ended by requesting to know what the students have gained. The students engaged actively and she provided satisfactory answers to their questions.
The Entrepreneurship session was facilitated by Mrs Daina Ehanah, the executive director, CEO construction service LTD, who took the students through entrepreneurship. Her session was interactive as she started by asking the students what they understood by the word ‘entrepreneurship’ and who an ‘entrepreneur’ is. The students gave various answers and she was wowed by their answers. She requested to know how many of the students have saved money before and how many of them have been involved in sales of any kind of items before. It was an interesting moment because majority of the students responded that their parents wouldn’t give them permission to do so. She took them through great Icons in Nigeria and the world at large who are successful entrepreneurs and still graduated from universities. She urged them to discuss with their parents to support them in the little trading they will love to venture in, which will not affect their studies. She elaborated on Financial literacy and urged the students to improve their financial literacy and technology skills. She ended her session by recommending a book ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ which will open their mind to entrepreneurship.
The social change session was facilitated by Miss Blessing Onwudiwe, the program officer, Women and Girls’ Advancement and Resource Centre.
She asked the students if they have heard about social change before and just few of them were able to relate to the question. She defined the terms “social change” and “a social change maker.” She gave examples of different young people leading effective change in their communities and how they can also join the league of change makers who are taking actions to bring about positive global change. In her lecture, she exposed them to different actions that create social change, which include advocating for a social cause, volunteering amongst others. She also mentioned different roles they can play in the social change ecosystem such as, becoming story-tellers who shares story to spark interest of others in advocating for a certain cause. The students asked questions that were duly answered by the speaker and indicated their interest to volunteer or take leading roles in driving social change.
The health syndicate session was on Sexual and reproductive health and had the students grouped based on their gender. This was to allow for free expression from the participants on issues pertaining to their health. It paid off, as this session was rated one of the best session by participants.
The girls’ group was facilitated by Dr. Kasarachi Omitiran a Public Health Physician at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Project Manager of The TIDEy Project. She made the girls sit in a circle as sitting in a circle promotes participation, inclusion, individuality and collaboration. The discussion was centered on how to maintain a healthy Personal hygiene, conduct monthly Breast self-examination and proper menstrual health management. They were sensitized about the the right practices they should imbibe for good health as opposed to the wrong common practice they may be practicing unknowingly. The girls asked many personal questions which was satisfactorily answered by the facilitators.
The boys section was facilitated by Dr. Emmanuel Egbe, founder of Health Influencer’s Network who talked to the boys about how having wet dreams at an early puberty age is a normal phenomenon and how it should be handled. He also talked about the need to abstain from pre-mature sex and drug abuse which could have a devastating effect on their health and academics. The boys were happy to have someone who talked to them on a personal level concerning issues they were bothered with.
The last session was the career syndicate. Here students joined the career grouping of their choice. Each facilitator for the career syndicate session first introduced themselves to the students and told them about their career. The careers represented include Medical Sciences facilitated by Dr. Emmanuel Egbe- Founder, Health Influencers Network, Engineering, Adeniran Adekunle, Aeronautics Engineer, Agricultural Sciences by Joy Ufomadu-Student Agricultural Science, Finance by Patience Ngalato-Bank Analyst, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Sports by Olumide Aturu- CEO, 5 Stars Football, Journalism by Stephanie Adams- Program Officer, Premium Times, ICT by Oseni Oluwatobi- Community Manager, Microsoft Project Aiki Nigeria & Business Influx Analytic, Politics by Alex James-Member, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and Law by Barr. Jude Odihe- Senior Associate, Pentagon Partners LP.
The session was very interactive as facilitators took them on steps to build a career in their chosen field and how they can use their career to drive social change and global development.
Find the Man, Do as I say not as I do and ideas pitching were some of the fun activities that took place in between sessions and during the break session as the participants were served refreshment. Awards were presented to the speakers in appreciation for the insights shared and contribution to the conference. The speakers also appreciated the work Sozo Networks is doing for teenagers and indicated that they would love to participate in the next conference. The students were given feedback forms to fill in order to express how they felt about the conference.
The vote of thanks was given by the Volunteer Manager, Mr. Caleb Ayodele. After which the speakers, organizers and students took group photographs. The program ended few minutes past 2’o clock and the students were excited to write what they have learned and how they were going to take active steps on The Expectation Board as they exited the venue.
“I was surprised, I thought this was some sort of competition so we prepared our students well for the event. Turned out we-myself and the students had so much to learn from the event. It will be great to have more teachers be a part of the conference so we can step down the training in our schools.” (Teacher, African Baptist School)
“This is a great learning event. I thought Sozo is a British organization as the approach and content of learning follows the British curriculum being used in our school” (Teacher, Olumawu College)
“I initially thought this was for secondary school student and it will not be value for my time. I was wrong! I have learnt how to take strategic steps towards achieving my dreams, I’ve also met people in my field who are willing to mentor me. I’m so happy I attended the conference” (Student, Uni Abuja)
“This is the first time I am attending a conference like this- one where there is no competition but networking; where leadership and how to solve a problem in my community is being taught and where I get to speak with speakers directly and ask them more questions on areas I need more clarity” (Student, African Basic School)
“I enjoyed the networking session, I wish there were more students from more schools to network with” (Student, Olumawu College)
1. The Sozo Mentorship Program: Following the SAFE Conference, 14 students with remarkable participation at the conference were selected for the 3-month mentorship program. A mentorship guide, mentee and mentor’s evaluation form, participant’s profile were given to the student (mentee) and mentors, to proper inform the model of the 3-month program. The schools and parents of the teenagers were also brought on-board with detailed information of what the program aims to achieve as they would also provide feedback that will be used to evaluate the impact of the mentorship program.
2. The SAFE Leadership Academy: One of the schools signified her interest in the SAFE Leadership Program for its students. Discussions are still ongoing on how it can be embedded in the school’s extra-curricular activities.