Joshua Alade, a passionate youth advocate and convener of the annual Dare To Dream Conference talks about what fuels his passion for youths, his recent Tedx engagement and his upcoming projects.
Let’s meet you sir.
My name is Joshua Alade, the last child in a family of seven but my brother and mom are late. So I have three beautiful sisters and a great dad. I was born in Bolade, Oshodi in Lagos, a graduate of the University of Lagos, Akoka. I am the Community Evangelist of NextGen Africa Initiative which reaches out to disadvantaged young people aged 8 to 21 in hard to reach communities with emotional intelligence, confidence building, leadership capacity skills and ICT skills to help them realise their potential.
You are one person who is really all about the kids, teens, young people in general. What drives you?
I am passionate about serving God and humanity. I had it tough growing up. I didn’t start my primary education until I was 8 years old as my parents couldn’t afford to send me to school. An uncle and his beautiful wife saw the potential in me and they became my stead parents and and they have influenced and shaped my life for more than 17 years. They made me realise my dreams are valid and that is what I am doing for every young person I meet especially those from a background like mine. I want them to believe in the beauty of their dreams and dare to live a life far above societal status quo for them.
When did you start speaking?
I started speaking when I was about 14 in the secondary school where I regularly gave the news round up to fellow students in school at the beginning and end of the week. When I was 15 I volunteered to lead a fellowship in my church and I was a unit leader in charge of people who were more than three times my age.
What has it been like pursuing your passion?
It has been tough but I have had an amazing support system of people who believe in me even when I didn’t know what I was doing. I have had to take courses both online and offline, attend networking events and read tonnes of books. Many times I have felt not good enough and my lifestyle as a Christian has been an incredible leverage for me during those trying times. The Holy Spirit has always been teaching me what to do and the support from family and my local church has been amazing.
When you first started how did you get people to listen to you or take you serious?
There’s this lady in my church, Sister Beatrice David who gave me the push, I didn’t know what she saw but I am glad she did. Then some people started inviting me to speak at youth gatherings in my community and I discovered at the end of every speech, people will walk up to me and say thank you for coming, we learned from you. Maybe being in secondary school was an advantage then but I love to say it is God’s grace and mercy. Everywhere I have been, every person I have interacted with has always been impacted for good.
You spoke at Tedx Covenant, on ‘when last did you think of home’ what inspired that speech?
Yes I did. The theme was “Imagine” and I was to talk around the environment. I am a sustainability person and I know the impact of how human behavior on the environment. In Nigeria, we do not think about the earth which is our home as long as our needs are being met. It is a common sight to see people buy peat drinks and snacks in traffic and once their hunger has been met, they throw away the empty peat and wrapper on the road. Sometimes, I want to ask what the roads will do with them. We buy so many things we do not need without thinking of where it is coming from as long as it is fashionable and trendy. One time I attended a conference and the paper bag that had the conference material had this inscription “We Are Protecting The Environment” and my question was “by felling trees”? Climate change and food shortage is a reality facing us and we need to start thinking about our earth more.
How did you feel being asked to speak at a Tedx event?
At first I was shocked, amazingly surprised because I had applied to volunteer at a TEDx event a week before and I was told volunteer spaces were filled. Speaking at the first TEDx event I will be attending further reemphasized my belief that my dreams are valid and impossible is nothing. I have been watching TedX videos over the past four years and I have more than 200 videos on my laptop with the desire to speak someday at one of the events.
What do you think of the younger generation?
The younger generation holds the promise of potential and better world for everyone. We have young people who are willing to take responsibilities, create solutions to the problems the world is facing, offer hope for the future of everyone but are deprived of the opportunities to make it happen. Still we will fight, keep the belief, look out for loopholes and create our ideas.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are working on the Dare to Dream, an annual teen leadership summit, an education advocacy project with Girl Rising to reach about 1,000 girls, a Nigerian Youth SDGs Summit to commemorate United Nations Youth Day in August, ICT skills training for 500 primary school children and organizing workshops on emotional intelligence, confidence building and leadership capacity development for teens in secondary schools.
Can you expatiate on that please?
The Dare to Dream is an annual leadership teen summit which aims to inspire youngsters to believe in the beauty of their dreams. Over the past two years we have held the summit across four states in Nigeria with more than 2,000 participants. The summit brings outstanding individuals who share their life stories with the participants to inspire them to Dare to Dream.
How can people who want to be a part of what you do join you?
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +2348169755173
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
At first, it was finance but right now we are looking at a scale-able business venture we can embark on to double our impact and create a constant source of income to support what we do.
What advice do you have for teens?
Dear teen, believe in the beauty of your dreams, take your education seriously, read books like your life depends on it (it does actually), seek quality mentors who will help identify your talents and support your growth and never second-guess yourself.
What should we be watching out for from you come 2017?
This year I want to connect more with other young people who are helping shape lives like I do and set up opportunities for us to be mentored and grow together. We need each other.