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Teens and their tight fits, yes their tight, childish and sometimes frightful fits especially when they get ‘walked up’ by their peers, teachers and oftentimes parents.
They could become resentful and if to the extreme, hateful and rebellious, declining every iota of advice given by adults hence the possibility of great fall into the unforeseen.
Quite a large percentage in many parts of the world today shows untamed, wild teenagers who in their world of fancy or fantasy tag themselves as adults BUT UNREADY TO DO THE ADULT NEEDFULL.
This youthful exuberance and carefree attitude more or less opened the sight of Chizoba Imoka to the wailing agony of teens especially the African teens in 2006 to establish Unveiling Africa Foundation at the University of Alberta for the purpose of creating a platform for Africans in Diaspora to take ownership for Africa’s development even from a distance.
Visions thus became clearer for UVA, UVA a foundation that has become a major voice for African teenagers (9 – 19 years) in matters relating to empowerment and social change. And so in the bid to give more meaning to teenagers’ lives, UVA provided a platform such that capacity in its five nation-building schemes would be developed, they include; Academics, Community Service, Leadership, Career skills, and Social Interaction.
With a strong belief in developing generations of Africans who are critical, creative, problem solvers and passionate about social change, UVA in 2010, thus narrowed its focus to Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. Since then, UVA has worked with more than 2000 teenagers across twenty secondary schools and impacted over 3000 teenagers and young adults.
Going by Nigerian Secondary Schools, Chizoba Imoka said that UVA has transcended to being a champion for teenagers by providing a platform to develop and showcase their leadership skills through transformative civics, political and community building projects.
Through UVA’s school clubs called Transformers and UVA’s teen network, UVA teenagers have reached and impacted more than 3,500 Nigerians through various initiatives such as the annual Days of a Change leadership program. In addition to this feat, UVA has raised more than $30,000 for various social change projects like bus purchases for physically challenged youth, charity donation to internally displaced camps and construction of soup kitchens. Through UVA’s career development program – Pathfinder, UVA has guided JSS3 students to choose their academic specialization in senior schools, disbursing about $15,000 in academic scholarships to 20 students across Nigeria.
The founder reiterated that UVA engages with teenagers and advocates for critical inclusion and justice. In August 2015, UVA, Chizoba said began an advocacy campaign in Nigeria for the inclusion of history and indigenous culture in Nigeria’s education system. The foundation also organized a cultural leadership program that involved 150 Nigerian students learning about their pre-colonial history and taking action for social change in their communities. The culminating event in that month was a conference (Advocacy for Inclusive Education Summit) that became a platform for students to share their schooling experiences with policymakers, parents, teachers and school owners. The resolution from the conference was later presented to officials at the Nigerian Ministry of Education
Unveiling Africa, through a broader scope of knowledge thus included more programmes for the teens which were tagged (UVA’s School Club):
The first which is, I AM, WE ARE, is a civics focused program that educates young Nigerians about the Child Rights Act. Through the Act, students from public and private schools are brought together to learn about their responsibilities and rights as young citizens.
Days of Change is focused on personal and cultural leadership. Young Nigerians are given a platform to reflect on their lives as leaders in the span of 6-8 weeks, nurture their cultural identity and identify social issues they care about. This event always culminates with a summit where students get to present their learning to a cross-section of education stakeholders.
Back to School for Two: Upon returning to school in September, club members in the private school network are encouraged to bring back an extra bag of school supplies for students who may be prevented from going to schools due to poverty.