Getting it right from the start …The need for Teen Development Programs

By Cynthia Asoegwu
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“We may not be able to prepare the future for our children, but we can at least prepare our children for the future” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

Teenage years/ young adulthood are the most important period of an individual's life, changes are occurring both physically and psychologically, there is a growing need for self-identification, pressure directly and indirectly from peers and the society..these are the defining moments of an individual's life

It is a time of growth, opportunities, as well as a time of challenges, it is the time where adult guidance is needed the most, note the keyword is guidance, as the average teenager has the tendency to be defiant and will do that which they feel strongly influenced to do, few take the future into consideration while making these decisions, and that's where adult guidance is very important, to provide them with a perspective.

The role of the school body cannot be over emphasized as teenagers spend most of their time in school or participating in school related activities, most friends are made in school, knowledge both good or bad is on a large scale obtained within the “school premise”, hence it is ideal for the school system to modify its structure to cater to not just the academic development of the students in their care but also their career and self development.

There is an urgent need for “Teen Development Programs” that focus on self definition, leadership, goals and other key skills and talent development areas that help give a teenage or young adult a better perspective on life and what it entails, providing them with constructive information with which they can define and develop their own unique personalities. Gone are the days of enforcing career paths or profession on kids, survival in this century is beyond technical skills or labor, it is driven by innovation and creativity, talent and skills, hence teenagers should be provided the opportunity to look within constructively based on vital information to define who they are, what they want to achieve, why, how, when and where.

“I kept Six honest men, they taught me all I Know, their names are What, When, Why, How, Where and Who” Rudyard Kipling

Highlights from the “Visionary Teens Career Exploration Program” theme “Maximizing Today”

Recently the Visionary Impact Netwox team conducted a Free Career Exploration program for Teenagers and Teachers from 13 Public Secondary Schools which was our pilot Teen development program focusing on the following core areas: Time management and Goal setting, Career exploration and Skill analysis, Leadership and Positive Self-assessment, Promotion of ICT and Entrepreneurship.

Our program focused on encouraging social skills and public speaking amongst the participants and we got very positive high-spirited response from the students and teachers alike. The program was designed to instill in them a sense of responsibility for their own future at an early stage where their decisions are still flexible in comparison to after graduation from university and the demands from the environment to start fending for one's self.

For most that opportunity seems lost as they find a way to cope and survive; only few are willing to risk the challenge of finding a new career path more suitable to their personality and passion. Hence we have more youths seeking jobs that are more manual and technical rather than intellectual as they have settled into a sense of work to provide the basic needs and live another day, resulting in working In less productive jobs or passionless workers, meaning poor company growth and making these youths easy pawns for corrupt individuals to exploit with the promise of easy wealth.

The program which was endorsed by the Lagos State Ministry of Education and supported by Mr Oforma Anyianuka of May7 events centre, Mr Durotimmi Adeboye of Global Education Media, featured musical performance from teenage upcoming artiste and ICT enthusiast Somto-Alpacino, an instant musical contest amongst the students, public speaking opportunities from selected students on their career choice, set goals and perceived challenges and obstacles, a talk show on the need for skill development and entrepreneurship/self-employment opportunities which featured a cross panel of young entrepreneurs.

Several seminar topics on Self Importance and positive evaluation were given by Mr Ojo Madueke, a political writer with This Day news paper, Leadership and self-discipline by Mr Durotimi Adeboye, Project Director, Global Education Media and Consultant to the Lagos State Ministry of Education and Mr Eric Obuh aka Vocal Slender, Founder Ghetto Love Initiative; Practical training on Goal setting and time management was conducted by Mr. Charles Eden, an Education Consultant and member of Public Peoples Network, the cross panel of youth participants who also served as counselors include: Chuxxx Asoegwu a budding Event MC, Show Anchor and Media Personality who anchored the event alongside Ms Esther Chukwukere, CEO Estair Creations, Ms Obianuju Asika a serial entrepreneur with multiple establishments which includes a PR and Talent management firm, Mr Ebuka Mbaegbu, Creative Director and CEO of Kraftweez INC, Mr. Uche Ezeobi, CEO Onyx Cynosure an event and catering service outfit, Mr. Okechukwu Chigbu Chief Web Consultant, Dicreations Nigeria and Ms Cynthia Asoegwu, President Visionary Impact Netwox.

The program rounded up with prize giving and question and answer session from the students of which many asked “what should they do if they are forced to follow a career path by their parents or guardians”. The issue of high youth unemployment, unproductive engagement of youths, bad leadership and corruption have their root in poor career planning, lack of personal developmental and assessment opportunities for youths from the early stage, if we can get this right from the start, we have a better chance of becoming a great nation in comparison to developed nations who have multiple platforms for teenagers and young adults to explore, define and develop themselves, and we can see the outcome for such communities.

Hence based on recommendation from participants, the Government and schools are being encouraged to embrace programs such as the Visionary Teens Career Exploration Program as often as possible, as well as corporate bodies through sponsorship to ensure such opportunities are made available to disadvantaged teenagers and young adults who may not be able to access such programs due to lack of funds.

The solution is not hiding behind religion and spirituality, but providing and accessing developmental programs for teenagers within the school and after school that promotes leadership, time management, career exploration, personal development and career planning.

As Research shows that at risk youth (age 14 – 18) developed more mature career attitudes and better decision making skills from being involved in career development programs.

Visionary Impact Netwox is a youth consultancy and management social enterprise that has worked with several Nigerian youths and organizations in various capacities. Our core focus as a network is to provide a platform for youth capacity development and productive engagement, towards achieving a common goal: Nation Building through Youth Empowerment.

The Visionary Impact Netwox team as youths have put together a teen development program that tackles key areas of development and these trainings are carried out by seasoned passionate youth facilitators, as we have discovered that teenagers are more responsive to older youths than to adults, and have employed tools that the average teenager responds to in order to expose and prepare them for the real world.

Career development is an ongoing process, students' career plans are in formative stages, and career plans develop and change over time. Taking into consideration the high rate of unemployment in the society, with the youth constituting a very high percentage, and the few organizations available turning back applicants for almost the same reasons; lack of employability skills which is beyond the hard skills of a profession, but soft skills and corporate etiquettes which are not included in the school curriculum.

This program is designed with this in mind to tackle the above mentioned issue and better prepare the participants for the future. We operate by the slogan that says “opportunity + preparedness = SUCCESS”.

Written by Ms Cynthia Asoegwu, President Visionary Impact Netwox

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