Growing up, I was always told that education is the key to success — specifically, classroom education. As kids, we equated success to earning a certificate, diploma, degree, masters, PhD, and so on. We aspired to have big careers, such as doctors, pilots, engineers, etc. Those are good dreams and ambitions — but now I know they are only a small representation of life’s possibilities. 

Here at Horizon, holistic education is key to empowerment: it’s a tenet of both Whole Family and Legacy Youth programs. Formal schooling is a major piece in holistic education, but it is not the only piece. Micro Community caregivers and parents play an important role, too. Whether in the classroom, in church, at home, outside, in the art studio, or somewhere else, parents and caregivers awaken children to the learning opportunities abounding in everyday life!  

These out-of-the-classroom activities are often creative. “We have children showcasing their creativity in music,” Mama Paulyne shared. “Nine children recently wrote and recorded their own gospel song compositions.” Mama Jacqueline added that arts and crafts has been a valuable time, where children learn drawing, woodworking and other creative skills.  

Children using their imaginations to create in the outdoors.

Other kids have picked up skills that often come in handy, like tailoring. Adults show children at Baba Nyumbani how to tailor clothing, allowing them to make simple repairs on their own. Some youth have taken up rug-making, a hobby allowing them to get creative and make a profit at the same time. Many children can also learn to cook and bake, skills both useful and creative (and delicious!).  

There are still other valuable things children learn outside the classroom — skills not used to earn an income, but that which gives children a strong sense of identity, personality and confidence. This emphasis on emotional, mental and spiritual support build character and wisdom in children they will continue to develop throughout their lives.

Shadrack shared that spiritual education helps me stand strong and navigate the obstacles of life.”

Shadrack, 19

Shadrack shared that spiritual education helps me stand strong and navigate the obstacles of life.”

Shadrack, 19

Phillip agreed: “the teachings help me to make right life decisions and know who I am.” Through support from mentors, psychologists, and caring adult relationships, children can grow to be mature, healthy adults, caring friends and family members, and responsible, self-sustaining people. 

Our Legacy Youth program is a vital part of this development. It’s designed to equip youth for success both inside and outside the classroom, according to their interests. As children go through school and find their own unique interests and passions, they’re eventually faced with a familiar decision: what’s next? This is the question Horizon staff seek to answer as they walk alongside our youth, equipping them to establish a life of self-sustainability in adulthood. 

Children attending school in Kenya

 Attending a college or university is one option for support, but it’s not the only option. Whether a child excels in their academic classes and develops academic passions or not, there are other areas of life outside the classroom where youth can discover different interests and passions.

The hobbies and interests people develop as kids may become a foundation for future career options. Maono Light’s group of Aspiring Engineers is one example — they began as a curious group of kids, anxious to do projects with their hands around the Micro Community. When asked, many of these youths are interested in engineering because they  get to create and invent new things! Through a Baba George’s mentorship, these youth have some practical experience under their belt they can only get outside the classroom! That experience motivates them in their classroom studies to one day becoming civil engineers.  

The Aspiring Engineers working together on a community project.

Other interests and inclinations may lead youth to attend a vocational or technical school to gain hands-on skills before employment. Others desiring to launch a business of their own have access to career coaching and start-up support.  

No matter the path a youth chooses for their future, Horizon’s mission is to equip them to do their studies and jobs well — both in, and outside the classroom. Even young adults who find themselves in higher education or a career can share their skills with others, who may learn and use them for income. 

“Something I have learned outside class is farming,” Philip, a university student in the Legacy Youth program, says. Philip studies performing arts and film technology, but those farming skills have proved to be valuable in empowering his family. “I know when I go back home, I can teach my family so they can earn a living from farming.” 

Holistic education is key to empowerment. From classrooms to vegetable farms to music composition, it all has a place.  Sometimes, children can even use their talents to change their lives.

Written by Dorice Lusuli