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SKILLZ @ Your Fingertips

The SKILLZ Guyz Magazine is a fun, visual, remote learning tool on adolescent health and wellbeing for youth without computer access.

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Written by

I am a.....

  • Oje Ivagba, Executive Director, Youth Empowerment & Development Initiative (YEDI) in Lagos Nigeria

Tell us about your idea

In partnership with Grassroot Soccer (GRS), Youth Empowerment & Development Initiative (YEDI) developed the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine, which translates GRS’s sport-based SKILLZ methodology into a fun, visually appealing remote learning resource designed by and for adolescents, with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV/AIDS prevention, positive gender norms, personal leadership and making healthy life choices. GRS’s sport and evidence-based SKILLZ curricula are delivered by young adult mentors trained as “Coaches” and designed to build young people’s health and life skills assets, facilitate access to high impact health services, and support adherence to healthy behaviors. YEDI began developing the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to update and build on the success of the SKILLZ Girl Diary used in YEDI’s all-girls SKILLZ programming, and to address an identified need for learning and reference resources for adolescent boys and young men to reinforce learnings gained through in-person interventions. The SKILLZ Magazine helps facilitate at-home learning and meaningful discussions around critical health and life skills topics as adolescent boys and young men transition to adulthood. These topics are often sensitive, and in some contexts, parents or guardians may not have comprehensive, youth friendly information on adolescent health. 

To address this gap, YEDI engaged its SKILLZ Coaches, who are young people themselves, in the design and development of the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine to ensure it captures the core SKILLZ Guyz curriculum learnings and focuses on common knowledge gaps or questions that participants raise when the program is delivered in person. The SKILLZ Guyz Magazine is structured around each SKILLZ Guyz practice as outlined in the Coaches’ Implementation Guide to ensure the Magazine supports step-by-step learning for use in both in-person sessions or remote learning. YEDI worked with Coaches to utilize language and stories/vignettes in the SKILLZ Magazine that resonate with the lifestyles and social-cultural reality of underserved youth in Nigeria. SKILLZ Guyz Magazine content is designed to be culturally sensitive, with a version designed for northern Nigeria given the region’s religious values and conservative outlook. These efforts are essential to ensuring acceptance of the SKILLZ Magazine and avoiding unintended negative or mixed-messages. 

Participant and Coach feedback indicates that SKILLZ Magazines support at-home learning, and participants have highlighted that SKILLZ Diary/Magazine resources help them facilitate peer-to-peer learning with indirect beneficiaries, using the workbooks as a learning tool and to share health information and services. The first issue of the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine for adolescent boys and young men is attached, and YEDI has also created other single and mixed-sex issues of the Magazine.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated mitigation measures such as school closures, social distancing and restriction of movement, YEDI recognizes the SKILLZ Magazine resources are more important than ever as a tool to catalyze remote learning among vulnerable adolescents, particularly those without computer or internet access. The SKILLZ Magazine helps mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on adolescents’ health, wellbeing, and education by continually engaging young people through a fun, remote, visually appealing, non-computer resource for youth to use at their leisure. The Magazine is a useful way to engage out-of-school youth (including OVC) due to COVID-19, and incorporates critical health information and soccer metaphors while prompting young people to reflect, meditate and process their situation.  

The SKILLZ Guyz Magazine represents a refreshing "analog" solution in a world that seems to be going digital more rapidly than ever. With so many young people either excluded from digital revolutions or locked into excessive use of digital devices (i.e. phones, computers, etc), the SKILLZ Magazine is a fun and equitable resource that can support educators, parents, and adolescents to practice mindfulness, learn about important health and life skills topics, and build confidence in themselves, all on their own time and in their own way.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

YEDI hopes that increased use of remote learning solutions and resources like the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine due to the COVID-19 pandemic will encourage school administrators to be more receptive to learning from or adopting additional, new, or non-traditional knowledge resources than they have been previously in the pre-COVID school system. YEDI has observed reluctance and discouraging bureaucratic processes involved in the adoption of learning resources in most school systems, even to support extracurricular learning in thematic areas where effective content is often lacking (i.e. SRHR).

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

As the Executive Director of Youth Empowerment & Development Initiative (YED), I have worked in the youth development space for over 15 years designing and executing youth work and skills development programming across Nigeria. My passion has been stirred over the years by the huge positive impact that can be made through investment in building the knowledge assets of disadvantaged adolescents and youth. Some individuals I have trained over the years have become business owners and executives, and often, to my surprise, have noted the significant value gained by having been provided with a learning resource, like the SKILLZ Guyz Magazine, during their training. These types of analogue resources are more practical in reaching and equipping larger populations of youth with vital information in a context like Nigeria with barriers to utilization of  resources that are heavily dependent on technology such as high poverty levels and limited access to virtual/online platforms or tools. The standardized nature of learning resources like SKILLZ Magazines also helps maintain minimum learning benchmarks, which can be managed for achieving large learning scale-up models.

YEDI is a non-profit organization with a local board and all Nigerian staff founded in 2011. YEDI has reached over 127,000 young people (over 33,000 in 2017) across four states and in over 500 schools with evidence-based programs (SKILLZ) designed to build young people’s assets, facilitate their access to health and social services, and promote their adherence to healthy behaviors. YEDI employs 30 full-time staff and over 240 young adult mentors (Coaches) and has offices and project sites in Lagos and Abuja and implements additional activities in Akwa-Ibom and Ogun States through strategic partnerships with and technical assistance to indigenous CBOs. The YEDI model trains Coaches as community change agents to implement age appropriate and gender-sensitive curricula that combine soccer metaphors and activities with high impact health information that engage vulnerable youth and break down cultural barriers. YEDI brings deep experience in adolescent sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, testing, and linkage to care, gender-based violence prevention, malaria prevention, positive youth development, and community mobilization.

- Oje Ivagba, Executive Director, YEDI 

What region are you located in?

  • Western Africa

Where are you located?

YEDI is based in Lagos, Nigeria, the most populous city in Africa with an estimated population of 21 million as of 2016. Youth constitute about 50 percent of the population, equaling over 10 million people. The majority of youth in the state are from economically disadvantaged families, often residing in urban-slums, and are largely ill-equipped with the knowledge to navigate effective usage of computer-based learning portals and cannot afford the typical cost of a personal computer, the cost associated with securing internet access, and keeping up with prolonged or scheduled timing online – due to high cost of internet data access and the erratic power supply.

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