FG to address plight of street children through sports engagements

The Federal Government of Nigeria has identified sports as a potent tool to effectively engage young people and address the plight of vulnerable youth and children across the country.

This follows the commencement of a 3-day training programme for twenty sports coaches drawn from five States of the Federation, as well as 4 coaches from the Federal Government as monitors.

States benefiting from the first phase of the training programme are: Kaduna, Gombe, Ekiti, Sokoto and Borno.

Tagged "Line up, Live up training for coaches" (Lulu), the Programme which is being facilitated on the platform of the At-Risk-Children Programme ARC-P, an initiative of the office of the Vice President directly supervised by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, with support from the United Nations office on Drugs and crime UNODC. LULU aims at empowering sport coaches with the requisite knowledge on life-skills to effectively engage out-of-school children and other vulnerable young people to take advantage of new opportunities and become productive.

The approach, according to the facilitators, is to use the instrument of sports to empower street children across the country, with a view to redirecting them away from social vices such as violence, crime, drug abuse, drug trade, human trafficking among others

Addressing the participants at the opening of the Lulu training programme in Abuja, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais said the coaching course is one of the many Interventions of the ARC-P initiative of the federal government geared towards addressing the cross-cutting concerns of children at risk, thereby providing them with a life of dignity.

Mrs Uwais lamented the plight of out-of-school youth & children, who according to her, are in huge numbers across the country, urging the participants to take the training seriously and use the knowledge gained to assist the Government in it's efforts to give a new lease of life to vulnerable children and youth in the country.

"I know it's not going to be an easy task for you to shoulder this responsibility because most of the youth you will be engaging with are going to be angry and disruptive because of the conditions in which they have found themselves. We all have a responsibility to support them by making sure they are brought into a constructive and productive pathway. So, I plead with you to be strong and firm in supporting us in this effort."

Mrs Uwais, who thanked all partners of ARC-P including UNODC for their support in ongoing efforts by Government to assist vulnerable youth & children in the country, added that educated (but unemployed) young Nigerians, including youth corps members, will be engaged and trained to drive the Programme to achieve set objectives.

"The first thing we realise is that these street children are in such large numbers and they are likely to overwhelm the State structures. We are hoping to get young people who are educated but unemployed to help us on this journey. Once we train them to look after the children, and they are able to mentor those of them that are in need, especially in aspects such as trauma and substance abuse, we will be able to support them through the primary healthcare development agencies and State medical systems. They will also be guided to remain in school or encouraged to work in cooperatives, for those who choose to become entrepreneurs. 

Many of them need to be aware of skills they can develop if they don't already have them. So, we are here to give them options that they can validate and develop. I am appealing to you to be patient and support these beneficiaries to acquire life-skills, thereby enabling them to take ownership of their lives"

The four-day training programme is expected to end on Thursday as participants are expected to hit the ground running. They are being prepared to make the needed impact on the lives of those they are being trained to support in their respective States.

Justice Bibiye
Communications Manager
At-Risk Children Programme (ARC-P)

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