By Michael Camu
A group of young children are gathered around a simple wooden table. They're reading a book called
Where is the baby? As one child reads aloud, the others examine the words and pictures. It's a typical day for these Ugandan kids—all of whom meet regularly in the country's capital, Kampala. After they've finished reading, they'll talk about the messages they learned. Then, they'll play games related to the book's story. It's something they all look forward to.
These little kids are first learning to read and write in school, which is why our play-based programs like the group reading session are important, helping them stay engaged in the classroom and develop the confidence to speak their minds within a safe environment. And it's working.
"I like working with children," affirms Coach Ssempala Ipolito. "They are the ones who will change Africa."
Here, in our Ugandan programs, 93 per cent of the children gained positive leadership skills compared to 78 per cent of the children not participating in our educational activities. These youth will be the nation's next generation of leaders. And all ages are welcome.
In a classroom next door, a group of older kids are immersed in a formal debate about gender equality. When a young girl rises before her male and female peers and argues that men mistreat their wives and engage in adultery, it's no surprise that applause follows, not anger. This is the power of play.
Coach Ssempala looks on approvingly, knowing these youth are applying their skills and knowledge to change the world.
"They are the leaders of tomorrow."