In a bid to meaningfully engage children and young adults, the Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) held its 4th annual four-week holiday coaching programme tagged ‘YEDI Skillz Holiday Camp’, which is aimed at sensitising and empowering young boys and girls in grassroots communities in Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Ogun States on prevention of endemic diseases such as malaria and HIV. This year, they engaged over 4,000 young people who were also empowered with knowledge on healthy habits, life management skills and how to avoid risky behaviour.
Speaking at one of the camps in Lagos, YEDI’s Executive Director, Anu Ishola, said the programme, which targets young Nigerians aged 10 to 18 was aimed at inculcating in them healthy habits. “Holiday period is a time when young children are most vulnerable, have a lot of idle time and are exposed to negative peer pressure that increases the likelihood of engaging in risky activities. With such programme, we teach them how to keep their environment clean, importance of long lasting insecticide nets and how best to use them; how to prevent themselves and others from HIV and malaria, gender equality, and how to stand for their rights. They are also given an opportunity to showcase and hone their skills among several other activities,” she said.
While thanking the funders of the programme, noted, “We appreciate ExxonMobil and M.A.C AIDS Fund, as well as our partners and youth volunteers for supporting this programme and making the holiday period a memorable one for young people. YEDI with support from its sponsors and partners has empowered more than 65,000 young people across three states in Nigeria including schools and communities using the Grassroots Soccer programme – a sports for development initiative, with plans to extend operations to Abuja and Rivers State in the nearest future.”
Participants at the camps, also had the opportunity to be counseled by experts on life’s issues as well as voluntary HIV counseling testing with parental consent, coupled with various sections on sexual and reproductive health education.
Founded in 2011 to pilot the West Africa grassroots soccer model, YEDI is a Nigerian NGO committed to introducing effective development approaches that have already been proven to work on the continent of Africa and ready for adaptation in the Nigerian setting. With offices in Lagos, Ogun and Akwa Ibom states, YEDI uses football as a tool to educate, empower and mobilise youth and communities to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, prevent malaria, learn about sexual and reproductive health, personal hygiene as well as life coping and surviving skills through the Grassroots Soccer Nigeria programme. These interventions are carried out both in school and out-of-school using trained youth volunteer Peer Educators known as Coaches. Every year, YEDI organises the Skills Holiday programme to keep children meaningfully engaged during the long holiday period.