Normalcy Over Protection For Transition Aged Youth in APC – By Mahmud Tim Kargbo

There got to be a way. Surely we cleanly salute the absolute significant of President Ernest Bai Koroma, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Hon. Musa Tarawally and Mr. Abu Bakarr Boxx Conteh in empowering and protecting our APC youth. Their actions alone in realizing this goal is and will never be sufficient; therefore we call for our APC people in social positions of trust to join them in this noble cause with a clean sense of double purpose.

It may be hard for an egg to turn in to a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

What a great metaphor for the process of guiding any youth in Sierra Leone, but especially APC youth, to successfully take flight as an adult and sustain the party in governance.

APC youth today are often mired in a complicated web of challenges, issues and looming obstacles on their pathway to adulthood, including: limited resources, unhealed wounds from trauma, little to no support (especially from party members in social positions of trust) and fuzzy future plans.

Add to these existing circumstances the competing forces of fear and excitement felt by most youth within the party, and you can see why it’s hard ‘for an egg to turn in to a bird’. But, as with the rest of us, this transformation has to happen for potential successful flight to take place within the APC Party.

Transitional Age Youth practitioners within the Party like President Ernest Bai Koroma, Dr. Sylvia Blyden and Abu Bakarr Boxx Conteh are currently playing a special role in preparing these youth for takeoff, but more needs to be done by the majority in social positions of trust who are directly benefiting from the Party. First, it is important to stop protecting the ‘egg’, instead focusing on strengthening the bird for its journey. I have been amazed over the years to see so many social workers and caretakers within the rank and file of the party obsessed with protection, leaving the youth within the APC Party substantially unprepared to jump the nest.

It is always my philosophy and practice to allow for trial-and error successes and failures. It’s a lot easier to pick up the pieces within the party and start over again under the watchful care of skilled workers than to see a young APC person crash and burn without a safety net.

Secondly, the youth in the APC need help to build a safety net of community and natural supports. Every transition age youth serve by our Party must be guided through the process of creating a Transitional Living Team to serve and assist them after they have launched in to independent adulthood. This includes Party stakeholders and ‘systems’ people but most importantly, it includes friends, family, significant others, teachers, et cetera; basically anyone these youth feel connected to within the Party structures should be willing to commit to supporting them positively, not just to misuse them. This element is about establishing permanent relationships within the APC Party, identifying who they can call for wise words in turbulent times or who will provide them solace and respite and where they can go on Easter and other holidays.

Third, we should make sure the APC youth are instructed in real-life skill building and not didactic workshops and classes which have little or no impact. Youth in APC are able to master skills that they have been assessed to be deficient in. it really works; plus, it gives these youth a resource to carry with them in to the future.

Finally, and what I consider to be the most important: Teach the APC youth to be prepared for the inevitability of political change, and to use it to their advantage. Remember, there is nothing permanent except change. Unfortunately, this truth is rarely discussed or taught in the grand scheme of ‘life skills development’ within our Party.

The reality is that most of these young people within the APC are used to change, but most of the change in their lives has been negative. It is our job as youth workers, party stakeholders to re-frame the change process within the APC Party in to a positive skill. I like to use the ‘rocks versus river’ metaphor when teaching about the positive effect of harnessing change to our advantage. Life is the river, constantly moving, constantly changing. In the APC we cannot choose to be that rock which resists the energy of change and over time becomes worn down. We can only choose to go with the flow of change, allowing it to take us to new destinations positively.
Teaching young people leadership skills is, in essence, helping to create change for the broader benefit of others within the APC structure, which ultimately reciprocates back to us. President Ernest Bai Koroma youth connection is a wonderful example of creating positive change for the benefit of a larger audience within the Party and the country at large.
President Ernest Bai Koroma Advocacy- be it political, social, environmental et cetera- is about creating and initiating change. If we want our youth in the APC to become positive leaders, we need to teach them how to be.

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