Sunday, October 09, 2011

Youth Leadership and YLEAD Empowerment Program by @graceiheji

Guest Writer: Grace Ihejiamaizu
That young people constitute the majority of the Nation’s population is a well known fact. There is no doubt also that the future of the nation rests on the shoulders of the youths. Without youths, the nation’s future and existence is threatened. Youths are like the catalysts that will lead to progress and change especially in the economy of the nation. They are the hub of the nation and the agents that will foster development. Their concerns and needs must therefore be taken care of if we must have sustainable development in Nigeria. It is however overwhelming that most of our youths do not have the necessary leadership skills to serve as agents of change in Nigeria. The value system and principles of ethics seem to have been swept down.
Recognizing these challenges, RYPE Initiative has introduced the “Youth-Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Academic Development (YLEAD)” program supported by the Michelle Obama’s Young African Women Leader’s Forum. YLEAD begins with a 5-day intensive training program for 15-24 year old secondary school leavers who are awaiting admission or JAMB examination.
YLEAD goes beyond the training program to provide mentoring and place these young people on internship programs to learn various skills. YLEAD also creates the platform for them to develop and start their own small businesses. It is positively aimed at engaging young people and helping them develop their personal, leadership and entrepreneurial skills for positive engagement. We want to help them utilize the one year period that they have to stay at home before enrolling in a University Program.
The essence of this program is to infuse independence, self-awareness, ethical values, leadership and entrepreneurial skills into young people. Instilling these values and skills in them at a young age would help them recognize the challenges we face and develop problem-solving ideas to make a difference in Nigeria. In the long term, it would curb youth restiveness and unemployment. Rather than engage in criminal activities, idleness and other unproductive activities, we want young people to use their inherent talents and leadership capabilities to initiate innovative ideas that will develop into small sustainable businesses in Nigeria. Entrepreneurship is key in the growth of any nation’s economy and must be encouraged.
Since the youths are the ones who would meet the specific manpower needs of the nation, then they must be inspired, empowered and prepared to become leaders, movers and shakers of Nigeria and the world at large.
Bio: Grace Ihejiamaizu is the founding coordinator of Y-LEAD, a youth empowerment program for young people in Calabar. For more information on how to get involved, please visit:

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