SambaSports Youth Agenda is a social platform created in February 2018 by youth and friends of youth from Kwale County, Kenya, to inspire and influence behavioural transformation in young boys and girls, through the use of targeted, integrated Sports&Skits activities.
The formation of SambaSports Youth Agenda was necessitated by a growing concern on the rate at which, teenagers and youth from Kwale, and Coast region in general, were degenerating to junks and drug addicts, juvenile criminals, forced labourers as well as suffering massive cases of trafficking in persons and the HIV/AIDS scourge.
State Of the Problem in Kwale
Kwale County is a proven hot spot for some of the most sensitive, emergent social problems, and their damaging outcomes. From the available statistics, Kwale paints a grim picture in relation to drugs and substance abuse, child trafficking and sexual exploitation, radicalization and violent extremism as well as youth susceptibility to HIV and AIDS pandemic.
- On Drugs and substance abuse, the UNODC estimates that Kenya by 2017 had about 18,000 heroin addicts who progressed to IDUs (intravenous/injectable Drug Users). 10,000 of these cases are in Coast region, and Kwale alone account for at least 4500 cases! Most of these IDUs get tempted/recruited into drug abuse tendencies between the ages of 14-18 years, mostly when in transition to, or while in secondary school.
- On HIV/AIDS pandemic, National AIDS Control Council, NACC, places Kwale as among the counties with highest HIV/AIDS prevalence of 7.9%, translating into around 52,000 kwale Citizens being HIV positive, with 35% of these people being adolescents and young youths between the ages of 10 to 22 years. Each year, at least 1005 adolescents in Kwale contract HIV.
- On trafficking in persons, Kwale is the worst hit for two reasons, its proximity to the Tanzania border and the Mombasa sea port, and the fact that Diani is a global priority tourists destination. Statistics on child labour, teenage sex with tourists, and “beach syndrome” have completely disenfranchised efforts to educate children in Kwale.
- Lastly, and most sensitive, is the question of radicalization and violent extremism in Kwale. In the last 4 years alone, at least 33 locals of Kwale, all Digos, were shot dead around extremist circumstances. Most of this happened along the corridor of Tiwi, Diani,Ukunda and Mwabungo. Human Rights Agenda put the number of Al shabaab returnees from kwale at 500 in the year 2017. The county commissioner, Mr. KutswaOlaka, was reported to have announced that only 48 returnees from Al Shabaab agreed to engage in the government amnesty, while more than 300 returnees were still at large, within Kwale. It was also anonymously reported that some returnees were busy recruiting adolescent boys and girls within Kwale, and hypnotizing them with radical ideas and behaviours.
The above statistics paints a worrisome trend. A trend that needs to be nipped or at least be mitigated from the root causes. Our young boys, mostly in their teenage years, are naive and vulnerable to bad influences. To make it worse, they are in the transition stage of adolescence, and might seek levels of influence, power and entitlement that are very dangerous to themselves, and the society. Something needs to be done to protect the adolescents and youths from themselves.
SambaSports uses the Targeted, Integrated Sports&Skits approach to “colour the world” of young people and to minimize their pull into juvenile habits predisposing them to drug abuse and juvenile crime. By making the lives of young people attractive, worth waking up to, with opportunities to explore positive influencing places and things, and the constant platforms to express themselves verbally, emotionally and skillwise, SambaSports greatly mitigates the vulnerabilities and risks of adolescents and teenagers to indulge in drug abuse, juvenile Crime and violent extremism.
The element of targeted and integrated can be expounded thus:
Targeted because the initiative targets to engage adolescents boys and girls who risk the exposure to drug abuse, juvenile crime and promiscuity tendencies. Being in a physiological, mental, psychological and social transition, adolescents are predisposed to various decision making dilemmas that leave them vulnerable to abuse of drugs and aggression if not well guided. SambaSports reaches out to them, excites them positively, gives them a platform to express themselves, and an opportunity to seek guidance, support, advice and clarity on several matters affecting them.
Integrated because the sports events include life skills technique training sessions, sensitization talks by organizations dealing with drug addicts rehabilitation and peace building, edutainment skits and performances to drive lessons into the adolescents, guest speeches by reknown academicians, engineers, doctors, advocates and other role models who motivate them to focus on education and discipline as a way of marketing their talents and shaping their lives.
Apart from the targeted integrated sports and skits, SambaSports also offers three more products to further prevent adolescents and teenagers from drug abuse and juvenile crime. These are:
1. Parental engagement to help mothers understand their roles in preventing way ward habits for their adolescent children. Trainings for parents done on this services.
2. Community service and motivational exposure visits for adolescents to colleges, universities and industries to influence the desire to build various careers.
3. Safe incubation Spaces, including resource centres for adolescents and teenagers learn life skills, to read motivational books and have access to an array of positively influential reading materials such as magazines, researches, journals, papers on matters affecting young people