Editor’s Note: In this writeup, a group of young people working to influence their community in Ghana’s Western Region, write about their operations and drive. The Team Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation is organizing various training workshops for junior high school students with a focus on STEM education.

Operating under the motto “Working today to change tomorrow”, Teen Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation (Teen Lead Foundation) is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide mentorship and leadership coaching targeted at teens and by extension the youth. These are intended to inspire their career choices, add to, and enhance their skill set as well as renew/reestablish their drive and zeal for entrepreneurship. Based on our motivation, mission and vision coupled with our respectfully identified deficits in the educational upbringing of teens in the Nzema East Municipality, we do organize a variety of events. In these programmes, we engage, sensitize, and bring our targeted audience up to speed with evolving and the much-needed skills for their personal and intellectual development. 

These events are usually organized by visiting the various Junior High Schools (JHS) within the Municipality to propagate the message of the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and certainly not forgetting Entrepreneurship. Sometimes, we do gather the various JHS at a common location to deliver the good news about STEM and equip them with stupendous information as STEM advocates. At the end of each encounter, we ensure that the highly motivated students are well mentored by an identified role model. Of course, we do our best to provide the students with some snacks or fast food and souvenirs for their time and energy that have been well spent. 

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our recent programmes have been held online via our various social media platforms where our numerous resource persons shared light on their respective areas of expertise. Figure 1 gives further details regarding the themes of some of the online STEM Career advocacy programs held. We have enjoyed the enormous participation of all the members of the Foundation with most of them serving as hosts to our distinguished STEM professionals and a few availed themselves as resource persons.

Figure 1: A collection of some posters from our already held online broadcast centered on projecting the STEM Careers. All the 11 members of the Teen Lead Foundation willingly featured actively as hosts and resource persons.

Following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 restrictions in Ghana, Teen Lead Foundation grabbed the opportunity and subsequently held a face-to-face STEM seminar. This was targeted at the JHS 2 students in the Nzema East Municipality (Axim Township). In this regard, we engaged them with insightful tips for making informed decisions, especially concerning their program choice/selection in the Senior High School (SHS) and by extension their future careers. 

Our STEM event this year was held under the theme “Exploring the various STEM careers” and it took place from Thursday to Friday, the 26. and 27. day of November 2020 at the Saint Anthony Catholic Church, Axim. Prior to the actual STEM career seminar, Teen Lead Foundation chanced on several platforms to promote the event and sensitize the public. The engagement with the media (social, mainstream), students, inhabitants of Nzemaland, advertisements, appeal for financial support and donation, etc., as well as some group pictures taken during the program, are portrayed in Figure 2

Figure 2: Announcement & advertising flyers for the STEM Career Conference/Workshop. In the middle are group pictures taken on day 2 during the conference and it features students from various JHS within the Nzema East Municipality. 

In all, fourteen (14) JHS (public and private schools) from the Axim Township participated in the event with each school presenting eleven (11) students with one (1) accompanying teachers. In pursuance of, adequately observing all the COVID-19 protocols; we partitioned the schools into two. In that regard, we had seven (7) schools each for the respective days (i.e., Thursday and Friday).

The program each day commenced with a terse introductory presentation by a Teen Lead Foundation representative. A first breakup session, which was a Poster Exhibition of the different Career fields in STEM then followed. Figure 3illustrates how interactive and insightful the Poster Exhibition session was. Afterwards, focused, and targeted talks by our highly distinguished invited practitioners in various STEM fields was held. There came yet another discussion breakup session addressed by the same speakers with a focus on questions and answers.

Figure 3: Beautiful scenes from the poster session focused on elucidating vividly the various careers in STEM via simple pictures and copious interactive engagement with our highly inspired Teen Lead Foundation members.

It is worth mentioning that the Foundation considered it remarkably important to include again in this year’s seminar, the Mentor and Mentee session. This is extremely paramount to our agenda and mission as this is intended to address a huge gap in assisting teens to make the right and discerning choices to shape their respective future career paths. Figure 4 portrays sneak peeks of the Mentor-Mentee session alongside the address by our various resource persons in STEM. Special guests invited to support and grace the seminar addressed the students. Among them was a representative from the Ghana Education Service (GES) in the Nzema East Municipality. The GES representative highlighted on the necessity of the seminar from an educationist perspective. Teen Lead Foundation, therefore leveraged on the presence of key stakeholders within the society to spread its vital message to the teens.

Figure 4: A cross-section of some JHS 2 students from various schools, the resource persons, and our able-Teen LeadFoundation team members during the STEM Workshop held at the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, Axim.

Background/History & Aims of Teen Lead Foundation

Teen Lead Foundation was founded some 3 years ago (precisely 23. June 2017) by one Augustina Osabutey, a native of Axim after being inspired by the laurels she had been able to chalk without the direct assistance of a mentor throughout her entire education. In fact, it has to be stressed that the establishment of the Foundation is in fulfilment of a promise she made to herself at the age of 10 to support teenagers in Axim to achieve their career goals. The advent and urgent need of the Foundation became evidently clear upon a deep and quite revealing self-reflection of her academic achievements, coupled with the unimpressive state, lifestyle, and livelihood of the Axim citizenry. It thus, dawned on her that she had to do something (a key role to play) to effect changes toward the positive especially for the teens and the youth. Based on that, she joined forces with her peers who had similar convictions to kick-start Teen LeadFoundation with the sole and crucial goal of changing the narrative of the female child and by extension young ones in Axim and its environs.

Put differently, the Foundation is an immediate and a direct response to the escalating number of the youth whose hope has ebbed off and thus, giving in to social vices to fill the void. The organization deems it, therefore, exigent to empower the youth to make positive strides towards the otherwise “harrowing” future. The primary goal is to reassure and enlighten young ones. Thus, Teen Lead Foundation goes with the slogan/preamble, “Reasserting a sense of hope for future leaders through personal development”. The overall vision of Teen Lead Foundation is to be the bedrock of teenagers in Ghana and the world and not be limited to teens in Axim only.

To bring into life our objectives and agenda, Teen Lead Foundation organized its first coaching workshop under the topics “What Career suits me”, “Managing Time Effectively” and “Building Self-Confidence” on 23. & 24. June 2017 at the hall of the Nzema East Municipal Assembly. Figure 5 highlights our founder and other resource persons busily engaging the students in active discussion. Other images in Figure 5, reflects the seriousness and comportment of our targeted audience. 

Figure 5: Shots taken from the first Workshop on a myriad of Leadership-coaching topics organized by Teen LeadFoundation for various JHS within the Axim Township. Students asking questions and engaging in fruitful discussions with the resource persons.

Figure 6 shows group pictures of the various schools which participated in the first program organized by Teen Lead Foundation. Exhibits of serious-minded students asking questions and/or participating actively are also seen in Figure 6. One can admit that this was magnificently successful as students emerged with good grades in their JHS exit examinations, the BECE so to speak. Additionally, some students who hitherto, were completely timid, massed up the confidence and extreme courage to even dare to take leadership roles in their respective schools and the society. It is prudent to, therefore, mention that the advent of Teen Lead Foundation has mitigated the huge impact of social vices and the “not so-promising” future of teens within the Axim Township. It has thus, been a strong pillar in helping to shape the future of the current-future leaders by significantly enhancing and improving their skill set as leaders, entrepreneurs and eventually, to also avail themselves and serve as mentors for other teens.

Figure 6: Group pictures of various schools with the Teen Lead Foundation members and the resource persons taken during the first Workshop on acquiring Personal Leadership skills organized at the Nzema East Municipal Assembly hall on 23. & 24. June 2017.

The drive of the Teen Lead Foundation members 

Currently, the Foundation boasts of 11 committed members (Augustina Osabutey, Cyrille Kablan Nouoma, Faustina Arthur, Godwinner Arwill, Adelaide Osabutey, JohnPaul Osabutey, Veronica Kwofie, Stephen Afriyie, Vivian Augusta Sarpey, Theophilus Kobina Sarpey and Nana Ofei Bekoe) see Figure 7 to put/match a face to a corresponding name. 

Figure 7: The gallant members of Teen Lead Foundation. For the upper row, from the far left to the end in order of appearance are Mr. Stephen Afriyie followed closely by Mrs. Vivian Augusta Sarpey, then Mr. Cyrille Kablan Nouoma. Miss Faustina Arthur is next and then Mr. Theophilus Kobina Sarpey. Similarly, from the far left to the right on the bottom row are our Founder, Miss Augustina Osabutey, followed immediately by Miss Veronica Kwofie, then Mr. JohnPaul Osabutey, Miss Godwinner Arwill and Miss Adelaide Osabutey is found on the far right with Mr. Nana Ofei Bekoe being second from the far right. 

Most of the members are students at various stages/levels in academia while others are at the beginning of their careers or start-ups. All the members are into diverse fields in the STEM careers. Although some of the members are currently overseas including the founder, they still do contribute their quota to the activities and structuring (various tasks) of the Foundation through their able-team members currently in Ghana. The passion to catapult our peers and young ones in our various communities to the apex destination of their academic and career life fuels our resolve, dedication, and commitment to push the STEM agenda. This our team members are convinced is achievable via the activities of Teen Lead Foundation until all the youth within Nzemaland, in particular, are affected positively. 

Although, the Foundation does not compensate or remunerate any member for tapping their resources (time, energy, effort, money) which is vital for the efficient running of the organization, the members continue to be focused on the big picture. This emanates from the continuous belief in the objectives of the Foundation. This stems from the ambition to witness many affirmative changes within our community/neighborhood in the next 10 years. 

Soliciting for funds/sponsorship

As already mentioned, Teen Lead Foundation started operating in the Axim Township and has evolved to reach neighbouring villages within the Nzema East Municipal Assembly. Its immediate objective is to cover the whole of Nzemaland, which includes Ellembele and the Jomoro Districts, and subsequently reach the entire Western region in the next 5 years. Our objective is to stimulate the interest of teenagers and the youth in STEM CAREERS. 

These are quite ambitious aspirations and targets albeit; they need to be done since mentorship inspires many changes, which are required to propel the nation forward. To be able to achieve these enumerated visions, the Foundation needs sponsorship. Teen Lead Foundation needs to continue in its relentless pursuit of campaigning, preaching, advocating for the youth who would have hitherto, ended up with teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and other social vices to live and realize their dream of being successful workers within or outside the nation Ghana. 

We hereby, appeal to all well-meaning people, companies, etc., regardless of where you find yourself to come to our aid and join forces with us to push this agenda. We would like to humbly request for your support. Please kindly donate to this noble cause. To sponsor us, please do contact us via email: info@teenleadfoundation.com , via phone on +233 54 144 2832 /+1(406)-491-7881 or perhaps via our various social media handles or platforms (LinkedIn & YouTube: Teen Lead Foundation; Facebook: Teen Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation/@TeenLeED). You can as well as donate to enlarge and help spread our tentacles far and wide. One can also support us by being a patron and make someone’s dream become a reality.