The secret to a successful Youth First Kenya Program pilot in Kilifi County: Committed Teachers

February 20, 2023
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The need for Resilience Programming in Kilifi County, Kenya

Here, let’s try holding it like this!”
“The trunk can’t break off!”
“We need more tape!”

Sounds like an arts and crafts class, right?
In fact, these were the exciting discussions amongst Kenyan school teachers as they worked in teams to “create an elephant” from a pile of seemingly uninspiring materials.

This was one of many hands-on, team-building challenges in which teachers excelled during their resilience program training in 2022.

With support from Fondation d’Harcourt and CBM Global, CorStone and BasicNeeds Kenya partnered to bring Youth First Kenya—a school-based resilience intervention that targets psychosocial, physical, and educational wellbeing—to Standard 7 students in six schools in Kaloleni, Kilifi County.

Team-building exercise during teacher training in Kaloleni, Kenya
I can now listen to people… I can now set a goal and achieve it.
Student Participant | Youth First, Kenya

Data exposes opportunity gaps

Kilifi County has a particular need for programs that equip students with the skills and mindsets to overcome adversity and thrive.

According to a 2013 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, income inequality in Kilifi County is among the most severe in all of Kenya. Some of the revealing statistics of Kilifi County residents summarized in this report included:

  • | 13% have a secondary level of education or above
  • | 52% have a primary level of education
  • | 36% have no formal education
Students proudly show off their newfound knowledge of identifying and managing emotions

Youth First Kenya Program impact on students and teachers

Teachers took on their new roles as Youth First facilitators enthusiastically, guiding students through self-exploration and skill building around such topics as using our character strengths, setting goals, solving problems with effective communication, and opposing violence.

Early analyses from program evaluations show that after participating in Youth First, students’ resilience increased and their understanding of program concepts improved.

Additionally, students reported increased self-confidence in solving problems. One female student shared: “I can now listen to people… I can now set a goal and achieve it. I’ve learned the importance of education and studying. Overall, I feel happy because of Youth First. It’s opening doors for me and giving me courage.

Teachers echoed the students’ sentiments and emphasized the impact that Youth First had on both the students and their own lives.

As one teacher put it, “Youth First has had a big impact on students. Previously, students feared teachers. But with the program, students have learned how to open up more to teachers, which has improved the school environment.

Students have also improved their relationships with fellow classmates.

For example, a student in Grade 7 lost his father, and the other students in the class jointly contributed money to support the student and his family without any prompting from the teacher. This wouldn’t have happened prior to Youth First.

We are inspired by the Kilifi students and teachers participating in Youth First Kenya and can’t wait to see what comes next!

Want to empower teachers in Kenya to affect more positive change? Support CorStone with a financial contribution to empower marginalized youth around the world to “bounce back” and thrive despite significant adversity.

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