“If you are thinking of applying to 4 Youth By Youth contests, please…”

Introducing our spotlight team for September, who also double as our winners for both the Designathon and Innovation Bootcamp 2022, the first to achieve this feat since inception, ladies and gentlemen… the admirable TEAM BINTA! 

Take our dramatic introduction as our way of welcoming you to the latter half of September! Can you believe we have less than four months to the end of the year? That might be a lot to take in, but we do hope you begin to make the most of it by evaluating and planning forward. In today’s blog post, we are featuring TEAM BINTA. Here, they will be sharing their experiences in a bid to give you perspectives on what happens at our yearly contests. Enjoy!

Team Binta!

About the Team 

We have been a team of three for over three years now, from participating in hackathons, global competitions, research projects, and volunteering opportunities, we are united in our drive for personal development and impact. We started as just coursemates in the Pharmacy undergraduate programme, and we are currently enrolled in at the University of Ilorin. However, our relationship has evolved to achieve meaningful feats. Our first team-up was applying for Hult Prize in 2019, and ever since then, we have grown to understand our individual strengths and weaknesses in building a solid team. Yusuf Babatunde is our team lead. He brings objective perspectives and tactically solves complex challenges. With his natural charisma, he is primarily in charge of networking and stakeholder engagements. Oluwakorede Adedeji is our all-rounder ‘tech-bro’. He is innovative, versatile, and constantly providing well-thought-out, practicable and evidence-based plans. Abdulmumin Ibrahim is particularly skilled in testing out the team’s ideas. From critiquing to analyzing and simulation of proposed solutions, Ibrahim refines ideas by pre-empting obstacles in proffering workable models. 

The Designathon 

Our journey to 4YouthByYouth started in the gleeful moment we received an invite to the Designathon. The 3-day Designathon was such an enlightening experience, from learning more about HIV and PrEP, to discussing our ideas with mentors and receiving feedback, it was nothing short of amazing for us. The organizers extensively provided resources to aid our ideation process. With a generous supply of stationeries, customized merchandise, food, and hospitable personnel comprising of mentors, research fellows, and youth ambassadors, we were well-equipped to pitch our idea. Before the final pitch day, we refined our idea using feedback from the mentors and facilitators who took turns in speaking with teams and evaluating the effectiveness of their ideas. By the final day, we were so prepared for the pitch and gave it our best, answering all the questions to the best of our ability. Moments after, we were announced first as the People’s Choice winner and later on, as the first place winners of the Designathon. It was such a moment of joy and gratitude for us. From there, we enthusiastically looked forward to the Innovation Bootcamp. 

The Innovation Bootcamp  

On receiving the Bootcamp invite sent by Ms. Chisom Obiezu-Umeh, we could summarize the email into three words – Learn, Fun, Food. Eager for this adventure, we were the first team to arrive at the Bootcamp venue, and at this point, it is important to mention that the organizers pay a great deal of attention to our welfare. The accommodation and its environment were serene; we were all super comfortable, and this played a huge part in working together and having team meetings.

Now to the activities of the Bootcamp – The Bootcamp itself was the very definition of intense. Each day was packed with new classes on topics pertinent to PrEP and our participation in HIV research. Despite how intense it was, we would not have wanted it any other way. We learned so much and improved our project idea to such an extent that we believe we are very prepared for implementation. We were exposed to the realities of PrEP in the country, given the knowledge, mentorship and know-how on making our project as feasible and practicable as it could be. The full 4-weeks, including the one week of local preliminary study, were nothing short of amazing. 

The most peculiar thing for us was 4YouthByYouth’s interest and investment in our personal and professional development during the Bootcamp. Each topic was very useful and essential to us and was taught by world-class experts. Topics covered included research writing, LinkedIn masterclasses and optimization, crowdsourcing in social innovation, budget making, qualitative research, leadership classes, teamwork, storytelling, public speaking, CV/Resume building, and several others. It was indeed packed!

The Bootcamp provided a longer time (4 weeks) to socialize and network with our peers, and through this, we formed a tight-knit group willing to support and help each other, despite being contestants. Sometimes, we would forget we were competitors, share ideas freely, and help each other with one thing or the other. For people like us who have been to several competitions, this level of closeness between teams was something we had not experienced before this. It was beautiful, and it is something we hope to keep. The facilitators were also very much accessible, and we were able to tap into their wealth of experiences as most were previous winners of the contests now retained as Youth Ambassadors. Our very own facilitator (Ms. Bowofoluwa Sharon Abimbola) was just plainly amazing and great for us. She dedicated so much of her time to help us, always with us every step of the way.

Then lastly, the food and fun activity: there are no words! Like literally, no words! We had some amazing delicacies to eat at the Bootcamp. We had game nights and played fun activities like charades, scrabble, chess, card games, monopoly, and much more. Our experience at the Bootcamp was simply unending. 

Looking forward

We are indeed excited for the implementation stage because we get to do the “real work”. There appears to be no better time than now, in the face of the current Academic Staff Union of University strike, to achieve significant health impact for fellow youths across Nigeria. We have heard stories of how difficult it is to get the project done as pitched on paper and that even excites us the more. Yusuf cannot wait to start speaking the grammar that will convince young persons to learn more about PrEP, Abdulmumin is eager to get his legs tired as he works on the field, and Oluwakorede is yearning to start writing and keeping records. Given that all teams get to implement, whether or not they made it to the top three, we can all learn from each other, share useful insights and continue the friendships! We would be sharing all the tea on our socials, do follow us @team_binta on Instagram and Tiktok and @teambinta on Twitter

Overall, the 4YouthByYouth team is indeed spectacular! Yes, spectacular, spectacular, spectacular. Despite not being tasked to pay a single dime, our needs were met to ensure a smooth innovation sail. Every member of the organizing team was easy to talk with and ask questions. It was particularly thoughtful that participants of the past Designathon and Bootcamp were brought in as facilitators for each team. Our facilitator helped us in ways we did not even know we needed help – Thank you, Sharon! We wish we can always keep coming back only to see the smiling faces that brought us through the different stages of our growth and learning at the Bootcamp. 

If you are thinking of applying to 4 Youth By Youth contests, please don’t….unless you want to learn a lot, meet new people, enjoy amazing food, pitch to win prizes, contribute to health research, and have one of the most amazing times of your life. Honestly, you do not need a ‘pro and con’ list on whether to apply or not, because it is all pros. Imagine yourself among young people, who like you are bubbling with ideas, visions, and aspirations…Wouldn’t that be cool?

Our experience at the Designathon was eye-opening. It only got better at the 4-week Bootcamp because we opened our minds to learning and garnered so much to help us even beyond our projects. So, take a deep breath, fill in the application, press the submit button, pack your bags when it’s time, and open your mind to learning throughout the program. Don’t forget to make friends too!

The Innovation Bootcamp Teams

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