|You, Your Life, Your Dreams: A Book for Adolescents (FCI, 2000, 213 p.)|
Many adults think that adolescents face few of the problems and worries that confront adults. However, for many young people, adolescence is a confusing and stressful time. It is a time of questions and anxieties about the physical and emotional changes that are taking place, as well as about education, employment and relationships with parents and friends. Adolescence is a time of peer pressure, ups and downs and worries for the future.
But adolescence is also an exciting and wonderful stage of life. It is a time when young people grow emotionally and mentally, take on new challenges and new responsibilities and identify their dreams for the future. They learn to make more and more decisions for themselves - decisions that may affect their lives today, tomorrow and for years to come.
As they negotiate the challenges of adolescence, young people need factual information and skills to be able to make sound decisions and safe choices. Many parents, teachers and other adults worry that adolescents lack the maturity and judgement needed to make good decisions about issues such as relationships, sexual activity, drugs and alcohol, or planning their futures. However, research shows that young people can make safe, responsible decisions if they are armed with accurate information and a range of skills, such as decisions-making, communication and negotiation skills, and if they are guided by caring adults.
You, Your Life, Your Dreams examines some of the key issues that young people in Africa face as they are growing up. The contents of this book were determined in consultation with adolescents in a variety of countries. It focuses on issues that adolescents themselves identified as important: the changes of puberty, staying healthy, coping with stress and depression, getting along with parents, handling friendships and romantic relationships, healthy sexuality, pregnancy, abortion, coping with drugs and alcohol, education and employment.
There are good reasons to ensure that our youth are well-informed about these issues. At home, in the streets, in schools and through the media, young people today are increasingly exposed to a variety of challenges and risks. Young people today are at great risk for a variety of health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion. About 60% of all new HIV infections in Africa are occurring among young people aged 10 to 24. This means that young people are getting infected with HIV faster than any other age group.
The most at-risk adolescent is the young person who lacks correct information. He or she will rely on friends, videos and popular music as sources of information, and in so doing, will get considerable misinformation. Therefore, this book was written to help ensure that adolescents have access to factual information and can build the skills they need to handle peer pressure and relationships, and, most importantly, to make safe and responsible decisions.
I encourage parents, teachers and other adults to look through this book and to share it with the young people you know. Talk with them about the information and advice given. Help them stay safe as they travel the road to adulthood so that they will be able to reach their dreams.
Dr. A. Ananie