A Character Coach is a navigator, an equipper, and an accelerator who sets the compass, working in the future of the young people – Wangari Kabiru 

By Wangari Kabiru   

December 13, 2023 I 9 – 15 minutes read

“Look, I am doing something new” (Isaiah 43:19).


PREAMBLE: On November 25th and 26th, 2022, The Positive Psychology Association of Kenya (PPAK) in collaboration with the Institute of Youth Studies (IYS), Tangaza University College hosted the 1st Annual Wellness Conference in Nairobi. YOUTH CHARACTER CLUBS IN KENYA: In Kenya, Character Clubs have been popularised thanks to the Positive Psychology Association of Kenya (PPAK) and the Don Bosco Youth Educational Services (DBYES). Clubs spring up in a variety of settings, schools, churches, temples, mosques, on the streets, and even, under trees! Young people aged 12 to 25 meet regularly under the systematic guidance of a trained Character Coach. With character as the subject of interaction. The youth-friendly curriculum focuses on character strengths. It has a variety of activities tailored to different settings of the Clubs. The writer is a Gen Z and Alpha Positive Psychology Character Strengths Facilitator, Character Coaches Training with PPAK.

Image: Character Coaches ACC Level 1 Cohort Graduation (Courtesy PPAK 2022)


“We are just tayad!” 

Because the vision is scrambled; the navigation is confused; the message is distorted; and the display is jumbled. “They’ve surely thrown us into an endless maze”. Through tiresomely long paths and tunnels; seemingly without end. 

As a youngster, does it feel like ‘they tied your hands behind your back’? Then, gave you marching orders. Through a radioactive decontamination zone. With a leaking gold-coated gas mask on?

“We can’t breathe!” 

Have you overheard the phrase “this entitled microwave generation is lost, lazy, and lacklustre”? You can now breathe a sigh of relief because there is some good news! You can do more than express your beliefs about the widely recognised cohorts of Generation Z and Alpha. Find a Character Coach. Locate a Character Club. Consider sponsoring a Character Club that is hosting young people! 

Hope For Young Africans 

“Africa May Have 90% of World’s Poor in Next 10 Years, World Bank Says,” reports Bloomberg (2019) from Manhattan, New York. Bloomberg bills itself as the global leader in business and financial data, news, and analysis. 

Africa. The continent is labeled as resource rich and the cradle of humanity. Despite this, Africa is then reclassified in the world order as home to the poorest people on the planet. Projected to the rest of the world as a dream-killing barren wasteland. Holding out a leaky bowl that is always outstretched. We would wonder, in whose outstretched hand or hands?

This Bloomberg headline refers to “a populous, resource-endowed people”. A continent zealously exporting highly skilled citizens ‘the diaspora’ around the world! Despite Africa’s paradoxes, young Africans must act on their hopes. It is now up to a newly coded gene of humanity’s cradle to redress for humanity’s sake.

Wellness Conference in Nairobi

On November 25th and 26th, 2022, The Positive Psychology Association of Kenya (PPAK) in collaboration with the Institute of Youth Studies (IYS), Tangaza University College hosted the 1st Annual Wellness Conference in Nairobi. The 2-day convening included the 2nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) for its members. 

”Positive Psychology provides scientific evidence that Character Strengths are the ingredients of wellbeing and authentic happiness. It also demonstrates through empirical data that young people can be coached in character strengths, and thus assisted to flourish! This is what we are up to in the Positive Psychology Association of Kenya (PPAK) – to promote flourishing individuals and thriving communities!,” said the Founding Chair at PPAK, Sahaya G. Selvam, sdb, PhD. (PPAK AGM & The 1st Annual Wellness Conference in Nairobi, November 25th and 26th, 2022).

The Wellness Conference featured paper presentations, workshops, and keynote speeches addressing contemporary topics. Presentations related to matters occurring to young people included: character coaching, character development, student mental health and youth party culture. 

Education related topics included CBC, teachers mentoring, student discipline, and wellbeing in educational institutions and homes. In addition to growth mindset, resilience, trauma growth, posttraumatic growth, value of love, peer relations and social behaviour. Delegates also discussed current issues on spirituality, religion, culture, faith-giving by Catholic Men, African indigenous healing, lifestyle, quality of life, abortion, and redefining paradigms. 

Other areas included domestic workers, employee rights, research methods, sustainable development policies, social transformation, public policy, and a variety of societal issues within the framework of wellness.  

The Positive Psychology Association of Kenya (PPAK) hosts member activities including workshops and training sessions, and public forums in the year. The focus being character, character strengths, and wellness with perspectives from the new science of positive psychology. Steered by the officials; Rev. Sahaya G. Selvam, sdb, PhD., Dr. Carol Chakua, Dr. Beatrice Churu, Mr. Dominic Kamau and Mr. Peter Mbuga, with the Administrator Ms. Lilian Muli.

Image: Character Coaches In Training By Sahaya G. Selvam, sdb, PhD the Founding Chair at PPAK  (Courtesy PPAK 2022)

Youth Mental Resilience and Agility

With the rapid pace of societal change, mental resilience and agility are becoming increasingly important to our success and happiness. As dreamers, youth are impressionable, agile, and vulnerable. Their wellbeing requires to be prioritised because they are in transition. 

At the Wellness Conference closing plenary, the guest, Sister Jacinta Adhiambo, Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) Academics at Tangaza University College challenged delegates to consider taking a dose of the positive psychology. By adopting a positive paradigm on the ongoing national education reforms. 

As a parting shot, Sister Jacinta Adhiambo extended the challenge further; “what if status quo remains and CBC is here to stay? How might we support parents to think positively about the education reforms?”

Overall, the discussions, experiences, and research studies presented spanned the country. From Nairobi to Thika and to Wajir Counties. The keynote then took participants to Uasin Gishu County.

The keynote address by Professor Eunice Kamaara, Professor of Religion at Moi University focused on a new and growing career. A hospital-based spiritual care and professional chaplaincy. A new approach to chaplaincy providing spiritual health support to care seekers, families, and caregivers. Adopted at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in the quest to deliver holistic wellness. Addressing the spiritual care quadrant which is an integral yet underserved quadrant of wellness. 

“Having a good discussion is like having riches.” 

– African Proverb

Such local and international conferences investigate the huddles in unleashing young people’s full potential. They generate ways to leverage on to be positioned not only for existing opportunities but to create them. Character Coaches leading Gen Z and Alpha Character Clubs for students, youth, and children benefit from such discourse.

Character Coaches and Wellbeing

A Character Coach is a navigator, equipper, and an accelerator who sets the compass, working in the future of the young people. Character Coaches wrap the young people with a coat of many colours – character strengths in readiness for the long haul. 

Readiness for the string of assignments ahead of the young persons for the purpose God created them for

Globally, Youth Character Coaches blend in to offer their services to young people at critical points of wellbeing. Care, development, and transition-related points. Points such as; spiritual accompaniment, therapeutic support, guidance and counselling, and professional development. 

Character Coaches are highly sought for within academia. Blending in career guidance, high performance sports, and study enrichment activities. Across different models of Character Clubs that are established, a tapestry of persons is involved in watering the good seed. 

A Foundation of Character Strengths

Character strengths, classified by positive psychology, are a family of positive traits that are universally recognised for the strength they create in the wellbeing of individuals and communities. 

The 24 Character Strengths serve as the foundation upon which Character Coaches build. Character Strengths are organised into six categories: wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence.

Young people’s early awareness of the 24 character strengths builds a foundation for self-confidence based on self-awareness. Which allows them to understand why everyone is different and to appreciate those differences. 

This influences their relationships positively very early in life. In the same breath, enhancing their acumen for ethical considerations. Besides, individual and collective conflict competency, collaboration, and cohesiveness. Coaches are required to grow in new ways and skills to support the young people.
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Image: A Peek Into The PPAK Character Coaches Training Manual Cover 2022

Upskilling Coaches As Levers

Upskilling of the Coaches may be done through several paths. Continuous learning as practitioners. By contribution to the existing know-how as a field of practice. Even by engagement in the development of good practice as a profession. 

For instance, Gen Z and Alpha have grown up with screens as pacifiers, entertainment, education, and work tools. Character Coaches as levers to the youngsters should indeed constantly invest in learning new skills to engage better.

“The emerging generation is a new species with an ‘ABCDE DNA’; adept, brilliant, conscious, daring and empathetic. Coded and programmed for privilege rightfully. An advantaged, gifted, talented, and awakened seed. A good seed that would only thrive with firm roots in fertilised soils. By reinforcing Character Strengths, Character Coaches water the good seed. Guiding young people in reframing their innate habitat ~ core values and regenerating new soils ~ habits to be rooted in. By leveraging Character Coaches, this generation would certainly be prepared to take on the mantle. To get us to our shared goal of wellbeing in a world that works for all of us – not just some of us; better, safer, faster, and even healthier!” 

– Wangari Kabiru, Gen Z and Alpha Character Strengths Character Coach 


Employee Wellness Programmes

Employee wellness became synonymous with the COVID-19 pandemic as employers worldwide refocused on their employees. Creating many types of employee resilience programmes. Most adults had never heard of concepts such as emotional intelligence. 

Such is the standard jargon at a Gen Z and Alpha Character Club. Even at workplaces, character strengths have been shown to promote employee wellness. Useful for the now youthful workplaces. Allowing them to thrive as employees at work.

Today’s workplaces are getting younger and younger. As more young people transition into more senior job roles with oversight over values, vision, strategy, and budgets. Oversight over the people, planet, profits and prosperity. Responsibility bears back-breaking weight if not cushioned by character. 

We do not have the luxury of having strengths like resilience and emotional intelligence as desirable options for these youthful workplace leaders. Such characteristics are not catchable by default by this gifted generation. Because they have been born in a double-edged world. This would be analogous to attempts to catch flying double-edged swords sharpened on all sides; including the blade, hilt, and even the invisible tang.

Our obsessions and greed must be refocused now in order to regenerate the soulful strengths inherent in their genetic makeup for their own survival. Also, to coexist with the senior generations. The seniors bring wisdom and experience from which to mature. Mature much like wines. Wines with a brilliant colour; a rich bouquet, luscious flavour, and aged naturally from a well-tended vineyard. 

Through the great power transition, as the next generation assumes responsibility for faith, governments, workplaces, homes, and communities, all can flourish. This is non-negotiable because investing in a character-rich Generation Z and Alpha will help humanity flourish in our shared world.
C:\Users\ST DOMINIC SCHOOL\Dropbox\My PC (DESKTOP-D7ST868)\Desktop\REQUIREMENTS 2020\Character Coach Training 15Mar2022-1.jpg

Image: PPAK Character Coaches Training Program 2022

Investment Time For Kenya

To speed up scaling to reach more young people, it is investment time. Time is ripe for the government to get on board. Time for partnerships with philanthropists, corporations, religious, and development agencies. 

Time to invest in structured and sustainable youth development programmes such as Character Clubs. Whether village-based, community-based, school-based, or digital-based. 

This is a small investment towards deepening what is already working. Just like small hinges swinging big doors, the investment would make a big difference. By assisting this advantaged, gifted, talented, and awakened generation safely forge its own path. A path into a world that works for everyone. 

 “Confiding a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain

 in a bag with a hole.” 

– African Proverb

For Gen Z and Alpha to carry the combined pressure of their own weight and the world, the whispers of the still small voice in their spirit must be louder. Louder than the scrambled, perplexed, distorted, and jumbled voices of the world. 

To the young people: listen to the whispers in your spirit with the secrets to pull humanity further than ever envisioned; better, safer, faster, and even healthier! 

Ready to smell the sheep? Become a Qualified Character Coach.

Image: PPAK Character Coaches Training Manual Level 1 Cover 2022

Images Source: dreamstine; PPAK; Wangari Kabiru

Reposted: For activating minds at mastermind.co.ke 

Wangari Kabiru is an Innovations Specialist and writes about society. Learn more.

DISCLAIMER/ALERT: The content is for general information only.

The author/platform does not hold exclusive digital rights to the images unless indicated. Recording in various formats may have been done by the organisers, hosts, guests, and participants at their discretion. For enquiries, on this and on related events, kindly contact the organisers. Event images and links included are as indicated and as made public and courtesy of chat platforms, social media pages, and or websites or other mediums hosted by the organisers.

Hire, Engage, and Work with Wangari Kabiru

Wangari Kabiru is an Innovations Specialist who brings to LIFE; promotes collaborative practices, enjoys game design thinking and writes about society, and is in new media. Philanthropies, organisations, institutions, and programs hire Wangari Kabiru in order to help rewire, reinvention, and rewrite linked missions.

Mentor: Active volunteer mentor with partners (+90s) in youth enterprise for in and out-of-school youth, and volunteers training for local and international teams.

Coach: Promoter and champion to award-winning models in education-leadership, youth enterprise development, community mediation, and restorative practices in the fields of community and youth development. 

Facilitator: As a Faith-based Facilitator, received training from the IIFBC (US) in faith-based counseling. As well as pre-marriage counseling, to develop mindful journeys as Facilitator for Intenders-in-faith. A Gen Z and Alpha Positive Psychology Character Strengths Facilitator, Character Coaches Training with PPAK. Illustrator: Trained facilitator in the Stations of Generosity discipleship experience, is Illustrator and Facilitator in Unlocking The Generosity Puzzle, a Kingdom wealth expansion strategy and Genesis 9:7/1:28 global faith-inspired blueprint for faith entities:- enlarging service by the missions, strengthening servant leadership for the missions, culturing stewardship of the missions, and building up generous disciples in the missions; Stations of Generosity for Visionary Leaders and Resource Mobilisers of Non-profits and Faith Institutions’. 

Image: The Generosity Puzzle 2023

Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2023

PPAK ACC – Level 1 Training Mandate: Accomplishments and Impact by Wangari Kabiru in Delivery of Level 1 Training Mandate

During the PPAK Apprentice Character Coach (ACC – Level 1) Training in 2022-3, Coach Wangari supported +100 youngsters by delivery of 2 core mandates in Kenya and two subsidiary mandates. Established a dual college-based and community-based Leadership Character Development Club; a cohort for a TVET institution and out-of-school youth; at the YMCA Kenya National Training Institute (NTI, TVET)/Shauri Moyo Branch with the USAID DREAMS Girls batch mates; Impact: E-book publication of ‘a letter to me in 2040’ by 30 of the girls in the “YEES! Girls Have Dreams” book. Roster Coach at a church-based Character Transition Programme; for St. Dominic Savio high-school finalist teens transitioning into the youth group. Along with one high school lecture day to 500 students, with their teachers and parents, and one employee lunch session, both forging on the character strengths, wellness, and peace.

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