Budding Leaders Empowerment Initiative organizes essay competition on climate change for secondary school students

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Budding Leaders Empowerment Initiative has organized Essay and Art Competition for secondary school students in Ogun State, aimed to raise versatile generation of youths equipped with essential skills and competencies to change the world around them for qualitative living.

Penpushing reports that, the competition held at Taidob College Abeokuta is  in commemoration of the Youth Climate Action Day 2022 celebrated on October 22 annually, while the focus was on youths, because they are not only victims who are affected by climate change, but they are also key actors in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The Executive Director of the Initiative, Prof Iyabode Kehinde in her speech explained that the mission was to mentor young ones through capacity building, encouraging innovation and creativity and contributing to improving the environment for qualitative living and community development.

‘World Health Organization defines ‘Adolescents as individuals in the 10 – 19 years age group and Youth as the 15 – 24 years age group. They live in an environment which has great impact on them and what they do to thrive. The changing climate is affecting them’, she noted

Penpushing further reports that, Kehinde said the organization noted that the Convention on the right of the child states that every person under the age of 18 has the right to participate in the decision-making process that impact them.

‘Therefore, we believe that these secondary school students have the right to know what is happening in their environment, speak out on issues that border on the environment because ultimately, they are the ones that will be affected in the future by how the adults treat the environment’.

Penpushing also reports that, she pointed out that, this indeed call for advocacy and sensitization which are instrumental to building a better and stronger future for children and young people, youth empowerment, and that youths need information to advocate for their rights, as well as increase their participation to address climate change.

The Executive Director said to achieve SDG goal 13 on climate action, the world must take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, noting that, climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods which are aggravating water management problems, reducing agricultural production and food security, increasing health risks among others.

‘Target 13:3 involves improving education awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning. To achieve this our organization believes that increasing youth participation in addressing climate change issues will ensure that a better and secure future is built for the younger ones’.

‘Hence, for an intervention to take place it is important for Youths in Ogun State to inform us on what they know about climate change. Understanding this will help in the first instance to address the knowledge gap and thereafter to give them the needed information’.

‘The aspect on what the youths in Ogun State know about climate change was addressed through the essay competition for Senior Secondary School students and through art for the junior students. The first two stages took place virtually and the final stage today which was carried out physically before the commencement of today’s programme. Also, the Knowledge gap will be addressed at today’s physical programme which is tagged the Youth Climate Action Day’, she added.

Penpushing reports that, the spread of participants that submitted essays and artwork include; Isonyin Ijebu, Ewekoro, Ado/Odo Ota, Idiroko, Sagamu, Ipokia, Ijebu Igbo, Isara Remo, Mowe and Abeokuta, while over 50 students submitted essay, five submitted artwork online, twenty made it to second stage for the online, and seven students with 50% and above were selected for the grandfinale

The Guest lecturer, Mrs Peju Osoba who spoke on the topic ‘Safeguarding Children and Young People in a Changing Climate’, noted that things are no longer the way they used to be, adding that some of these changes are natural while many more of them are due to  human  activities.

‘Anytime  the  issue  of  climate  change  comes  up  for discussion,  it  concerns  all  human  beings,  children  and  adults,  black  and white. Discussions  on  climate  change  have  heightened  recently  because  the effect  is  becoming  alarming  and  is  telling  on  almost  every  facet  of  our lives. It is not thus surprising that Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is targeted towards reducing the effect on our daily lives’, she said.

Penpushing further reports that, the child right activist said effects on Developmental Rights is that, globally the number of out-of-school children is increasing daily and this is may be attributed to the harsh weather conditions and increasing food insecurity.

‘School infrastructure are destroyed as a result of natural disasters and Africa is not hit in this regard. In Nigeria, the farmer-herder crisis has been linked to climate change and, of course, this has led to schools being closed one ends. The foregoing are some of the ways through which climate change has adversely affected the rights of children to development’, Osoba said.

Meanwhile at the end of the competition the names and schools of winners are include first position: Queeneth Bassey (Abeokuta Grammar School, Abeokuta, second position: Ireoluwa Kehinde (Taidob College, Asero Housing Estate, Asero, Abeokuta), third Prize: Opemipo Sojobi (Taidob College, Asero Housing Estate, Asero, Abeokuta),fourth Prize: Tomilayo Bamigboye (Legacy Seed Model College, Ota) and fifth Prize: Emiolaoluwa Adesanya (Megadegs Model Secondary School, Ota)

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