PRINCETON, New Jersey — Astou Ndiaye describes herself as someone who is looked upon with admiration back in her home country of Senegal. She is a former WNBA Champion and Senegal National Team player and now works in Oklahoma Health Care Authority while also being a motivational speaker.
Ndiaye was pleased when she went back to her home country to speak at the launch of a new program made in partnership with the NBA, USAID and Seed Project called Live, Learn & Play. It is a youth development program that trains African youth in the game of basketball while also encouraging citizenship.
Ndiaye believes this Program will provide opportunities for African youth which were rarely available when she was growing up. She also spoke to those in the program, talking about how involvement in sports provides skills necessary for life such as “mastering skills, having the discipline to stay in school, keeping out of trouble and leading a healthy lifestyle,” according to USAID.
Senegal has one of the youngest populations in Africa and the youth face many challenges growing up. Children entering school face challenges finding an education as four in 10 children do not complete primary education and 37% complete basic education.
According to UNICEF, more than 1.5 million children didn’t go to school in 2016 and child begging and trafficking continue to be a national issue. Organizations such as the Seed Project are providing resources to help those struggling around this age succeed.
This organization exists with an understanding of the low percentage of youth in Senegal that stay in school and graduate college. Therefore, Seed Project provides programs trying to reinvent the student-athlete model of education. Its programs look to give its participants the necessary tools to both improve basketball skills, more importantly, to become leaders and upstanding citizens in life.
Some of the goals this organization focuses on are increasing school retention rates, increasing middle and high school graduation rates, promoting civic participation among African youth and providing high-quality athletic programming.
Seed Project achieves this goal by working with 2,000 youth students weekly on athletic, coaching and academic programs.
SEED Academy is the first basketball student-athlete academy in Africa which launched in 2002. The goal of this academy is to train high-potential youth athletes to attend university or secure a job. Between 2002 and 2012, the academy helped 100 student-athletes go to university or find a job in Senegal, Europe and the United States. In an effort to provide more opportunities the Seed Project also launch SEED Academy Girls in 2013.
SEED Scholars helps graduates of the academy with career services and job placement support globally. The Seed Project hosts an annual student-athlete career services workshop teaching various topics such as financial literacy, networking, interview processes, and career counseling which can also be found in the career development program.
The Women’s Empowerment program also works in providing youth women in Senegal with leadership skills, chances to find their voices and a supportive environment to express opinions freely. This program also gives opportunities for male students to support their female peers.
These are just a few programs the organization provides to push the lives of African youth into the future.
The Seed Project sees high success rates with around 92% of its students going to university or finding a job in Senegal or globally. Furthermore, the organization has also trained 352 coaches and partnered with 87 schools in this effort to impact and inspire African Youth.
The road to a successful education has its challenges at the moment. However, through organizations such as the Seed Project more and more children globally can find access to necessary skills and mentors and go on to lead successful lives such as Astou Ndiaye.
– Alex Havardansky