Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Empowering Youths to Drive Nations Forward

The growing need for youth involvement in development issues was at the forefront of Nigeria’s agenda last week as Action Health Incorporated (AHI) Nigeria, alongside an array of non-governmental organisations in Lagos met with Donald Floyd, President and CEO of the National 4-H Council, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, in Lagos to discuss partnerships for innovative youth development projects in Nigeria.

The National 4-H Council is the partner of 4-H, one of the United States’ largest youth development programs, which works with the mission to advance youth development movement; building a world in which youth and adults learn, grow, and work together as catalysts for positive change. According to Floyd, youth empowerment can only take place when adults step up and give young people the skills and opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

Youth involvement in decision-making is an important fuel to the social and economic strength of every nation, and should thus be encouraged in every developmental organization. “We need to give young people governance positions,” said Floyd. “Youths should have the power to sit on the board of directors or to make funding decisions within their organization, and also to make important decisions about the development of their communities and country.”

Floyd described his own experience working with four young people on the board of directors for the National 4-H Council. “It was an often painful experience,” he said with a laugh, “but the best strategy was for youths and adults to learn to mentor each other-- sometimes young people knew things we didn’t, and sometimes we knew things that they didn’t.

“It’s all about mutual learning to work together as catalysts for change.”

The meeting took place at a brunch reception hosted by AHI and drew a variety of non-profit organizations from Lagos to discuss the importance of youth empowerment in Nigeria, and how creative partnerships between local, national and international organizations can boost the level of youth projects and youth involvement in Nigeria’s future.

*By Amanda Hale

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