TEENS AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

By Aliu Toluwani Victor

My journey as a leader started while I was in primary school. I was made social prefect. I was the first student to be involved in school events planning, I don’t know why this happened but I know they must have seen something in me that made them involved with me.





As much as there has been an increase in the discussions around innovation and community development, a lot of teenagers still don’t know what community development is, what it takes to be a community developer, the essence of getting involved in community development at this tender age and how they can get involved.

Community development is taking a step to solve a problem that is affecting not just you but also people around you, whether or not you get paid for it. At a very young age, I always find myself exploring extra-curricular activities, volunteering, etc. When Dad comes back from farm saying he wants to share some stuff to the needy, I always volunteer to share it; when it comes to holding an event, I always like to be a part of it. Today, I am enjoying the benefits.  

The real journey started in 2016 when I got the idea to co-host a National Teens Leadership Summit with my brother where the participants were trained on leadership, personal development and entrepreneurship. The program also included a debate competition and prizes were given to winners. As the younger brother, I had to deliver invitation letters to different schools in different locations. There were times I had to trek and if not for the passion I had for impact making, I would have quit. After delivering all the invitation letters, I had to make numerous calls, send loads of text messages to ensure massive follow up on each school. To cut the story short, the event was largely successful with over 150 students in attendance. The next year which was 2017, I planned the same event at Covenant University and had over 1200 students in attendance.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A COMMUNITY DEVELOPER?

What it takes to be a community developer is nothing much at all; you need commitment, dedication, and passion to make your community a better place - in other words - the desire to make a change. If you have that zeal to change things that are not right in your community, you can be a community developer. However, it is not enough to carry the zeal, you need to start acting. Action is key in community development. Talk is cheap; this is why many people talk all day without any reasonable action. If all we do is talk without action, then, there is a problem. This is why I lose interest in listening to motivational speakers that are not taking action.

WHY SHOULD YOU GET INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT?

Many of us love to be on the spotlight; some of us want people to talk about us every time; some of us want to meet with lots of great people that are very popular; some of us want to travel around the world; some of us want scholarships, some of us even want money. All these can be attained if you get yourself involved in real community development. You don’t need to engage in criminal activities or involve yourself in cybercrime before you attain all these things.

I was able to work with the Board Advisor to the Queen Commonwealth Trust who is also a queen young leader, Adam Bradford. I was able to work with the Special Adviser to the Abia state governor on teens matters. I was able to secure a slot for a sponsored radio program I anchor currently in Ibadan. I was featured on African Independent Television for over five months on a reality TV show. I was selected as my campus director for the Hult Prize in partnership with the United Nations. I was interviewed by the BBC and it was aired. I have also been invited to several events to speak and facilitate and many more I cannot mention here. How were all these attained? The answer is my involvement in community development nothing more. 

I know some of you would start arguing now that it is based on connection, but I would want you to rethink. Would an amateur or a novice get a connection to attain all these if he has not been hardworking? I know a lot of you have started thinking of how you can get involved in community development due to my storytelling.

HOW TO START YOUR JOURNEY AS A COMMUNITY DEVELOPER

It is not a big deal. If you have followed my story well from the beginning, you would have seen some of the steps I took. I attended events both free and paid; I can’t count the number of the events I have paid for directly or indirectly. I have used all my pocket money to attend events from Ibadan to Lagos. I can’t also count the number of organizations and events I have volunteered for. 

TAKE INITIATIVES

It is not necessary for you to set up an organization but it would just make you unique at a very young age, setting up something that would have an impact on the community. You can either decide to be a solo founder or co-found with someone else depending on you or what you are working on.

As a teen there are lots of opportunities online for you, don’t just use your phone to chat on WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook alone; search and apply for programs online. Some of these programs do ask most times how you have demonstrated leadership in the past, this is when your initiatives or the organizations you have volunteered for, also the project you have worked on becomes very valuable.

MY ADVICE

My advice to all teenagers reading this is - don’t just read for the fun of it and don’t see it as a waste of time. Start something; start attending events that you think are necessary for your development, start volunteering, start applying for programs and don’t forget to share this piece with your friends or your family members.

I wish you good luck.

Aliu Toluwani Victor Regal is the founder of Teensxpression Radio Show and Co-founder Upsurge Global

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