How youth can be positively engaged during holidays

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019 00:00 |
How Christmas can be stress-free.

John Mwendwa 

It has been long school holidays and let no parent pretend—it is not easy. I am referring to parents who love and spend time with their children and who have not used the demands of modern living and economic uncertainties to delegate parenting. 

A conscious effort and sacrifice is necessary to be with, and infuse positive values, in them. But children can also be a handful. 

Some parents confess seeking refuge in the toilet and engaging in a cat-and-mouse games just to get some moments of peace away from their children.

Some children are also known to terrorise their parents but that is not my focus here. 

Despite good intentions, many parents must be away from home for long hours and sometimes for days. 

Lucky children will have an adult to monitor their activities during the day. Many parents are not able to hire a nanny or engage an older sibling or relative and are forced to leave children alone with some instructions. 

Parents will have no way of knowing whether or not these instructions are followed unless they involve deliverables such as house chores and homework.

How can you tell that your child has been watching age-equivalent movies or went out to play?

Several studies point to the dangers of addiction of children to electronic devices such as play stations, mobile phones and movies. Children have been known to be more violent or deviant after watching certain genres of games and movies. 

Lack of exercise occasioned by sitting all day is partly attributed to the rise in obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. Exercise increases mental alertness.

During long holidays, children forget a significant portion of what they learned in school.   

It is worrying to see the huge number of children of all ages idling around neighbourhoods and streets.

Neighbourhood associations and parents end up dealing with all sorts of juvenile antics not least among them drug and alcohol abuse, teen sex and pornography and all other sorts of mischief. 

No parent, however, ‘good’ their child is, is safe as technology has exposed children to a wider range of experiment-able activities from a much younger age. Peer influence not only happens in neighbourhoods but also on social platforms. An idle youth is a disaster waiting to happen.

Schools, religious organisations and groups that organised holiday camps for children must be commended. A significant number of these programmes were talent-based, including football, basketball, martial arts and music.

Other life skills on the menu included swimming, drama, public speaking and cookery. Most of these programmes, however, ended by mid-November. Many parents are also not able to afford these programmes due to the high costs or different priorities. 

It is time for communities and the private sector to support the youth by organising activities and programmes to keep them positively engaged during the holidays and beyond. 

In countries such as the United States, many companies invite university students to work for them, which for many has been their lifeline to graduate education. Many students attain life-changing work experience. 

Beyond internships, corporates and SMEs need to review their human resource polices to integrate students in work programmes to prepare them early for challenges of life.

Indeed, the government may need to review labour laws to not only protect students from abuse, but also incentivise the private sector to take up such students.

Public schools and colleges are some of the most important assets owned by communities. Instead, their gates remain closed for the entire holiday.

That means the football pitches, basketball courts, racetracks remain idle until the students return. What a waste!  — The writer is a communication practitioner, writer and     journalist

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