By Simdi Gloria:-
Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative, YEDI, has equipped young people with accurate messages on HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention, sexual and reproductive health and rights, Leadership, and Active Citizenship through a programme tagged “SKILLZ Holiday Camp”
The program that took place in Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, and Abuja reached over 500 adolescents aged 10-19 years through a learning model that leverages a football-based curriculum.
According to Mr. Oje Ivagba, YEDI Executive Director, the aim of the camp was to reach young people in rural and hard-to-reach communities who had little or no access to the right sexual health information.
“Issues like the early sexual debut, teenage pregnancy, alcohol, and substance abuse were rife in these communities. Our 5-day non-residential camps at each location utilised trained peer mentors, referred to as coaches, who were assigned to young people in cohorts of 10 each in cascading the YEDI SKILLZ Curricula.
“The participants had access to voluntary HIV testing and counseling services, and referrals for further care and support. Parents were also featured on the last day of the camp which was the graduation ceremony and was encouraged to know more about their children and wards.”
In a press statement released by the Executive Director, “The need for this holiday camp within COVID-19 context is vital for continued accurate messaging to support adolescents at a time of great uncertainty.
“YEDI is pleased to be able to observe all due protocols to reach and equip adolescents with comprehensive messaging for their sexual and social life development. The Camps also help us accelerate government efforts at passing accurate information on COVID-19.
“YEDI appreciates the flexibility of its donors, ExxonMobil, MAC AIDS Funds, and Common Goal in supporting its program redesigns in the year as occasioned by COVID-19.
Participants while appreciating the programme, noted that they didn’t see a big deal in what they were doing before the intervention but the intervention has opened them up to living safer and healthier lifestyles.
One thing they agreed to have learned is the power to say No to social vices within their communities and would further be game-changers in inspiring their peers to live better lives.
Also, some of the participants who had been victims of domestic and gender-based violence spoke up and are currently being followed-up.
Excited Parents also gave their words of blessings about the intervention and were grateful to the program sponsors for the laudable program.
“YEDI is a not-for-profit organization that delivers evidence-based programs, in schools and communities, designed to build young people’s assets, facilitate their access to health services, and promote their adherence to healthy behaviours. Since its inception in 2011, YEDI has benefitted over 220,000 young people in schools and community sites in Lagos, Abuja, Akwa-Ibom, and Ogun State.”
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