Thursday, 23 February 2012

Nigerian National Youth Award program

I was asked to participate in the training of trainers-national capacity building in the above-mentioned program on Monday and Tuesday and I must say that I had fun.

You see, I met the National Director 'by chance' at a governor's house a couple of weeks ago and she invited me to talk about young people with disabilities. And was I so glad that I went? I did a presentation on meeting the needs of young people with disabilities which was received very favorably!

Let me give you a brief background of NNYA. This association is a member of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award Program. The four main 'tenets' of this program are: service, skills, physical recreation and Adventurous journey. I had never heard of the NNYA until I met the National Director, Dr. Jophia Gupar who is really a committed and versatile professional youth worker. The video clip which was shown to us on the 1st day gave me a better understanding of what the Award Program is about.
There is an International Gold Event(IGE) which takes place every year (or so, I believe) and every participating country sends its awardees for that International Gold Encounter. So the two young people who represented Nigeria attended the training program and shared their experiences at Kenya. The video clip showed young people doing recreational activities which I did when I was younger (and fuelled my interest in extreme sports) like kayak canoeing, abseiling,etc. It also showed activities done in the community and of particular note was the Adopt-a-granny project which I believe took place in India. I was pleasantly surprised to see that some young wheelchair users also participate in the program (in other developed countries). One of the young Nigerian representatives,Chinedu Eluwa told me that he met a deaf representative who came from Scotland to attend the IGE at Kenya- and that he forgot the sign language that the young man taught him :-)
This award program is open to young people from the age of 14 to 24 and is categorised into 3. One of the attendees recommended that the award should be open to those younger than 14. I actually agree with her as it would be better to 'catch them young(er)' seeing how the present youth generation is going these days.
There were about 20 participants; 4 delightful people from Sokoto State in the North of Nigeria and 3 equally delightful people from the South West to mention a few. Quite a number who attended are teachers, a handful are young university students. About 6 people came all the way from the East so there was a 'good mix'. Although I was the only one at the program with some sort of disability, I was accepted. I gave some ground rules on communication which were adhered to with no fuss. I was very impressed!! I went away thinking that I would look for a young deaf person to participate in this program. You can't blame me for thinking that way.
There was a very interesting session on leadership styles. It was given so refreshingly and with humor by Zainab Mohammed. And when I say refreshingly, I mean 'calling a spade a spade' way of sharing.
I went away with quite a number of things; not least of all, a bigger network! I am particularly looking forward to setting up a number of projects for the deaf with the people that I met. I am glad that everyone is going with a reminder about including deaf people and hopefully, that reminder will spread.

*Asaaba!!* *Asaaba!!* (said to give appreciation) to Jophia Gupar and Danjuma Ojei who co-ordinated the training program.

And yes, I'll post some photos shortly!

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