Kolda is located in the southeastern region of Senegal. There are very few formal employment opportunities for young people, as a vast majority of the population in Kolda makes their living from farming. There is also lack of constructive outlets for children during school vacations. To address this problem, the Youth Empowerment Camp project will provide 26 middle school students from throughout the Kolda region with a constructive forum to learn life skills, practice creative expression, increase their knowledge of personal health, and improve their leadership skills. By the end of the month long camp, participants will have an increased knowledge of reproductive health, life, and leadership skills, and will have built their own 5 and 10 year plans for success in the future. Upon returning to their individual communities and villages, each kid will be required to demonstrate their knowledge and celebrate their experience through a presentation of their activities to their middle school classroom, teachers, and family members.
The camp was a huge success! 30 students participated, including four of last year’s campers who took on leadership roles as assistant facilitators. This year’s camp hosted numerous workshops focused on nutrition, reproductive health, goal setting, leadership and gender equality, and implemented new activities, such as container gardening and a yoga class. Students were very engaged during the workshops and showed improvements in their leadership and communication skills by the end of the camp. As a requirement, each student was responsible for writing an individual plan outlining their future goals. In the weeks after the camp, each participant presented their plan to their parents and teachers, explaining what they had learned and how they will fulfill their future ambitions. The camp exposed the students to new topics and ideas, and inspired them to set goals for their educational and professional lives.
“I was excited to meet professionals in medicine and law enforcement during the career panel. Talking to a female nurse helped me understand what women in Senegal are capable of and what I need to do to become a doctor or a nurse as well.” – Awa, 13, Project Participant
“Learning about different food groups and how food functions in the body was really fun. Now I understand more about what makes a healthy meal and how to make sure my family is eating healthier to help prevent malnutrition.” – Mariama, 12, Project Participant
“This project has helped children understand their work as leaders of their communities and of their country in the future. It has particularly helped female students who are not typically encouraged to continue their studies and strive for careers.” – Amadou, Project Leader