Professor Stephen O. Kwankye, Co-Project Director, of Healthy Cities for Adolescents (HCA) Project, has called on stakeholders to go beyond project initiation to project completion.
He said project completion offered citizens the benefit of the investment and created an avenue to sustainability, adding that was the only way to ensure the project impacted lives.
Prof. Kwankye was addressing an inception meeting for stakeholders in the Ashaiman Municipality on the theme: “HCA Project- Tamale to Ashaiman, the role of the Stakeholders.”
The HCA is a youth Oriented-Project funded by Fondation Botnar, a Switzerland -based foundation with a keen interest in adolescent health issues.
The project was rolled out in Tamale and set to be piloted in Ashaiman hence the need for inputs of stakeholders.
Prof. Kwankye said the project sought to reintegrate into the school system adolescents, who had dropped out of school due to early pregnancy.
He said this would be achieved through a collaborative effort by the stakeholders to hold on to the objectives of the project further than the three years.
“In Tamale, we have rolled out a system that has helped us identify girls who have dropped out of school and had supported them to return. This can be done through the community members identifying adolescents who have teenage pregnancy but still have the interest to go back to school,” he said.
He said some of the parents out of disappointment did not want to invest in children with teenage pregnancy because they saw them as liabilities.
He said people in such conditions needed to be encouraged, and provided with the needed help to soothe their pain rather than being maltreated.
He warned that the act of naming and shaming people in such conditions had mental implications on adolescents hence should be avoided.
“We identify the dropped-outs individually with their parents and engage them as well as encouraging them to overcome the stigma of friends mocking them and rather focus on their education; with a strong conviction no one can prevent them from going to the school,” he said.
He said the project had rolled out several activities and programmes in Tamale, which would be looked at in the context of the Ashaiman Municipality.
Some of the programmes include Adolescents on Wheels, where adolescents were provided with branded boxes mounted at the back of the bicycles with adolescent catchy messages to create awareness about their health and general well-being.
He called on the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) to help curb the indiscipline on the roads to champion the safety of children.
“I drive through Dodowa to Accra and seeing the menace caused on the roads such as motor bikes drivers driving along the stretch of the road, V8 drivers with their flashy lights as if the roads belongs to them which is a very big challenge.
“Anytime I am driving my heart is in my mouth so I wonder if a small project like this could end this challenge,” he said.
Prof Kwankye called for a collective voice and implementation of policies and enforcement of the laws to bring sanity on the roads, schools, homes, and societies.
“We need the maximum effort of every stakeholder to innovatively ensure the well-being of the adolescent child,” he said.