No other time of life surpasses the teenage years, for the sheer joy of living. Most teenagers possess a high level of creativity and strength. However, as a result of their habits, a great number of them fail to fully maximise their potential. Many are left bored and, with nothing to productively engage their time, their minds have become the proverbial devil’s workshop. Other factors, including poor parental influence and lack of vision and a sense of their life’s purpose, have contributed to a steady rise in juvenile delinquency. This does not augur well for the Nigeria of our dreams.
Fuelled by a desire to secure and preserve the future of our dreams, Teajay Chunu, on the platform of his social enterprise, IMAGINIT, has put together a teenage value orientation workshop and is taking it across Nigeria. He speaks to ConnectNigeria.com’s Joy Ehonwa about the StepUp! Project.
What inspired the StepUp! Project?
I will simply say the future; the need to see teens live maximally today to deliver the desired future. I have been working with teenagers for about 14 years and realized how we neglect them generally but demand results from them. A high percentage of teenagers walk without a sense of purpose and direction, so the question “where are they going?” comes to mind. Obviously a man without a destination will enter a frustrated journey, most of us and our fathers who just ‘hustle to survive’ or ‘work hard to make it’, end up complaining in frustration because we do not have a higher sense of purpose that transcends the immediate challenges, which will always be there. This has led to vices, lack of moral standards and corruption as we see today. To see a better Nigeria, a hopeful, productive, economically stable future, we need to StepUp! in our minds and with our actions.
How many Nigerian cities do you plan to take Step Up to?
Five (5) cities for a start; Delta, Lagos, Benin, Port Harcourt and Abuja. I hope to see it run in all the states of Nigeria, West Africa & Africa at large.
What impact were you aiming for when you designed this workshop?
I want to see young people grow with the right value system that translates to their everyday life activities; business or otherwise. I want to see young people walk objectively, pursue a defined goal, learn how to make right decisions and live purposefully. I want to see Nigerians grow beyond just complaining to become the change we desire.
What were the highlights of StepUp! Delta in Warri?
It was a “wow” and grand experience for the teens and facilitators. The teens wanted a 3rd day, they had fun while kick-starting their lives the way they really wanted it. We had the dream game, goal setting breakout sessions, skill activation breakout session where some learnt cinematography, photography, choreography, web design, graphic design and other media-related skills. They were given the opportunity to implement their knowledge practically during the workshop. They went home with a free workbook and a special gift that will inspire them towards academic success.
Lagos is next. What do teenagers in Lagos have to look forward to?
A “double wow” experience as great friends such as Niyi Adesayan, Steve Harris, Victor Sanchez Aghahowa of Tinsel, James Abinibi, Toyosi Akerele, Abiola Champ Salami, Chude Jideonwo, Timi Dakolo, BOUQUI and a lot of other great people will be facilitating the sessions.
What challenges have you faced in executing this laudable vision, and how can Nigerians support it?
Well, a lot of people after reading through our website or proposal always call to say wow, well done and do their little bit but some don’t believe something this genuine will be done by young Nigerians. Some doubt sustainability and running on personal funds have really been challenging. I see some Nigerians want change only by words and are not committed to making it happen; these kids we neglect become the terror we protect ourselves from. I call on Nigerians to first take responsibility to consciously mentor the next generation and secondly with just N2000 per teen empower them to get the books by Fela Durotoye, Deolu Akinyemi & my workbook as the teens participate for FREE. They can sponsor as many teens as possible, it’s a timeless investment.
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