He wants to be a surgeon, but he also dreams to have an art gallery.
She is a lawyer in the making, yet loves to make amazing cakes.
His life ambition is to build robots but cooking is his passion.
She is a budding accountant who wants to help the needy by making shoes for them.
He is an aspiring computer programmer who loves to make exquisite fashion pieces…
These statements represent the heartbeats of many Nigerian children. They are academically sound and multi-talented with passions they dream of fulfilling. Such children need the right listening ears and a hand to lift them up, giving them the opportunity to be brought out of the shadows into limelight, where they rightfully belong.
The Toolbox Academy is not the usual holiday skill acquisition program. It is a unique initiative of Greenburgh Education Consult, designed to raise versatile children who are technically and intellectually prepared to face present-day challenges. The Premier edition held in Abuja between 1st and 31st of August, 2018, culminating in an Exhibition and Award Ceremony on the 1st of September, 2018.
Toolbox Academy combines skills and leadership training in order to fish out young entrepreneurs who can make amazing products and also properly handle their businesses. It is our belief that apart from academic pursuits, every child is gifted with a unique talent and such abilities should be identified and supported with acquisition of relevant skills to help that child make meaningful contributions to the Society.
Many parents appreciate and recognize skill acquisition as an avenue for generating multiple streams of income thereby reducing dependence on white collar jobs which are not readily available. Therefore, they want their children to learn certain skills. The problem, however, is that school activities render children too busy to combine skill acquisition with academics. It just doesn’t work. On the other hand, parents consider it unsafe to place children as apprentices in certain workshops to learn desired skills because they fear abuse and indecent exposure if their children get mixed up with adult apprentices. So, holiday skill programmes became the in-thing. Sadly, these do not solve the problem as the time is often too short and the aim is usually to keep the children busy while their parents work, rather than develop their talents or make them professionals.
Most children are multi-talented and every child deserves a TOOLBOX. Some children simply want to be able to solve their own problems at home. They want to be able to mend their torn clothes without asking for help all the time. Some other children want to create things that they can sell to make money, while others want to be known for something. Amazingly, others just want to pursue their passion regardless of the benefits in the future. They want to develop the talents they are gifted with. Taking all these into cognizance, The Toolbox made provision to allow participants to make their choices from the vast array of courses available. For one month, they received intensive training, during which they created their own brands and made products available for sale during the exhibition.
As part of the leadership training, children were encouraged to STEP UP and LEAD when occasion calls for it. Through practice and lectures, they learnt team work, public speaking and self-awareness. At Toolbox, we believe that giving them an avenue for self-expression allows them explore their creativity and also boosts their self-confidence.
Creativity involves play and this was a big part of Toolbox 2018. The children played to their contentment and worked to their fulfilment. How cool is that!
Producing a crop of children-entrepreneurs within a single month is not an uphill task if you have a formidable team. To teach photography, fashion design and accessories, shoe making, baking, music, fine & applied arts, we had seasoned professionals like: West Foto, Sussyaskia, Josephine August, Walashi Shoes, Cakes N More and Damanze Arts. These were willing facilitators who poured of themselves into our young participants.
Children between the ages of 4 and 11 from different homes, backgrounds and schools, met at the Academy to become a family. They learnt team work and respect; they learnt how to present themselves to the world and be the best version of themselves at all times. At home, they are responsible and resourceful; at school, they step up and lead; at play, they respect others. Each participant had a toolbox filled with required training materials and they also went home with certificates as proof of their hard work. The products displayed on the exhibition day were out of these world and guess what, these children made every single one of them.
To move Nigeria forward, we need to promote holistic education – every child must be trained in the head, heart and hands. Until we get this right will we have a generation of young entrepreneurs who are never stranded and who will never ask what their country can do for them but what they can do for their country.
The Toolbox will be held annually during the end-of-session vacation and will gradually spread to other states of the federation so that children all over Nigeria can benefit from this initiative. I celebrate the brain behind this wonderful initiative, Mrs. Adekunbi Omotoso. Watch out for them in this space!