Lifeskills That Empower Future Generations.
December 2020, Nairobi Kenya. The COVID-19 Pandemic left 1.6 billion children out of school. When the first case was reported in Kenya, all learning institutions were closed to help protect the nation’s children from a mysterious and potentially dangerous virus. However, in protecting their health we inadvertently neglected their emotional and intellectual development. With children out of school and lacking access to educational activities, they became vulnerable. Their days no longer had predetermined activities such as attending school and doing homework. So, they now had to find ways to keep themselves busy and satisfy their need to learn. As most of us came to learn, this is an uphill task even for those with access to technology, internet and in the best-case scenario a virtual learning platform. Now imagine how hard it has been for the rest of Kenya’s children.
Blink International saw the need to engage children intellectually and socially during this unique period and this gave birth to the Transformative Life-Skills Training programme. The participants, aged between 11 and 16, were carefully selected from the Gataka community in Nairobi County. Life Skills are meant to prepare the child for an active role in the world and possibly reduce the moments in adulthood when we find ourselves wishing we had been taught something earlier.
The interactive five-week training programme saw the children learn life skills that have and will continue to transform their life journey. With the biweekly sessions, the beneficiaries had something engaging to look forward to. The training programme and even opened our eyes to some of the realities they face in their community. They grew in their knowledge of themselves and the role they can play to make their community and country better. They walked into the programme quite reserved but left capable of voicing their opinion in front of other people. A testimonial from one parent articulates this well.
“Since my child started coming to this programme I can see a definite change. I didn’t know she had it in her to stand in front of a crowd and present her case so articulately.” Mother to an 11-year old who had been previously perceived as shy and reserved.
They left the programme understanding the importance of positive affirmations, a skill that will make them more resilient as they face life. This will ultimately have a positive effect on their mental wellbeing as they get older.
Training such as this is an excellent opportunity for children to learn new skills but as parents and guardians, it is our role to be our children’s first teachers. We can only do this if we are educated on the issues that can help our children be productive members of our ever-evolving world. Educating ourselves may mean talking to other parents or reading books but it can also mean listening to our children. Having meaningful conversations with our children will give us insight into the areas our children need extra support. These conversations might lead us to seek professional support and that is fine because there is no resource that is ever wasted on a child.
The participants might have been sad to leave the programme, but we were excited for them to get the opportunity to share their newly acquired skills with other children in their lives.
Written by Tracey Wasunna – Lifeskills Facilitator
For more information on the Lifeskills project please visit The Blink Youtube Channel here.