Since the pilot programme in 2011, Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative (YEDI) has through its Grassroot Soccer (GRS) program and other programmes, adapted and applied highly effective development models for disadvantaged communities in Nigeria. In 2015, YEDI once again, demonstrated the effectiveness of Soccer in development and promotion of health awareness, life management skills, authentic information about HIV/AIDS, malaria education, women empowerment, gender equality, etc. In addition to the GRS model, YEDI also partnered with reputable organisations to directly reach many young people in at-risk communities with free Malaria testing and treatment, HIV Counselling and Testing, free insecticidal treated nets, as well as raised awareness and advocacy against stigma and discrimination in the communities.
Our efforts yielded (and is still yielding) tremendous results and impact. We have fostered development of youth and communities in Nigeria using our programs and activities to drive relevant and important information and discussions about life and health risks.
Lagos: In 2015, the in-school program recorded a huge success. From January through December 2015, a total of 610 interventions were completed in 206 schools in selected Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Lagos. Over 16,000 students graduated from the GRS program. A total of 237 sports officers were reached in 5 LGAs and education district1.
In the same vein, the out-of-school programme was also a success with an expanded curriculum. The major out-of-school activities for 2015 were Skillz Girl, Skillz Holiday Camp, World Malaria day, World AIDS day, HCT and Red Ribbon Novelty tournament.
Akwa Ibom: In Akwa Ibom, a total of 5485 young adults graduated from 390interventions carried out in 56 primary and secondary schools and during the Skillz Holiday Camp (SHC) in August/September, 2015.
Ogun: Following our expansion into Ogun the previous year, 17 new coaches were selected in addition to a staff from our NGO partner, SOS. They were trained and activated for the implementation of the Grassroot Soccer program in Ijebu East LGA. Refresher training was carried out twice in Ogun State for the Volunteers. And for the first time, a five-day Skillz Football Holiday Camp was organised in Ogun State, producing 191 graduates. And in just one year of extending operations to the state, the GRS program had a total of 2837 beneficiaries.
For our operations in three states (Lagos, Akwa-Ibom and Ogun States), 4 new Master Coaches were recruited and trained while 81volunteer Coaches were also recruited and trained. Refreshers training were conducted for the Coaches to deepen their knowledge of our curriculum and facilitation skills. YEDI team, with support from South African Grassroot Soccer team, piloted Skillz for Life curriculum for Special Olympics Nigeria.
YEDI commemorated World Malaria Day in Lagos, Akwa-Ibom and Ogun State with the Lagos event in partnership with Special Olympics Nigeria, an organisation that brings Special Olympics opportunities to individuals with intellectual disabilities in Nigeria. For World AIDS Day which is venerated annually on December 1, there was a week-long series of activities brought together by a coalition of strategic NGOs (with YEDI playing a pivotal role) and private sector partners with elaborate plans to directly reach 7500 persons with HCT and over 3.5million people with Information, Education and Communication (IEC) as regards correct information about HIV/AIDS. It took place in communities in Lagos, Akwa-Ibom and Abuja and culminated in a celebrity novelty match with ex-Super Eagle players, other celebrities and people from the corporate world in Lagos. Over 9,000 people were directly reached with HCT.
These community and school-based events are designed to sensitize the community and inspire more actions from people to protect themselves from malaria and HIV/AIDS, increase sexual and reproductive health education, and promote awareness about other public health risks.