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SKILLZ participants during an intervention

SKILLZ for Life is an initiative run by Special Olympics Nigeria (SO Nigeria), and is sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation. SO Nigeria, partnered with Grassroot Soccer, to launch this initiative in 2015. This groundbreaking program, utilizes the power of sports (football) to provide malaria and HIV/AIDS education, voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and services to people with intellectual disabilities (ID), their families and communities.

The project is currently on target to reach over 2,000 people with ID in 33 schools in Lagos State and in the South West Region of Nigeria. To date, more than 100 coaches have been trained, and more than 2010 participants in the Region have graduated so far from the SKILLZ for Life initiative which in 2015 was implemented in 50 schools in Lagos State, Okeigbo - Ogun State, Ilesha - Ondo State and Oyo State.

In Nigeria, people with ID and their family members face severe stigma and discrimination, this has caused challenges accessing health information, services and resources for this population, a human right denied that increases risk of malaria and HIV/AIDS. The project's approach and impact have greatly resonated with family members, communities, coaches, and athletes. As a result of the success, lessons learned and best practices gained, SO Nigeria with the continuous sponsorship from ExxonMobil and partnership with Grassroot Soccer, have decided to continuously provide these services to people with ID and their families for a second year. Through utilising the monitoring and evaluation conducted in the first year of the project, year two of the project, "2016" will further refine the education curriculum to best meet the needs of the athletes and families and apply project improvements as necessary.

Using football as the medium, the project will provide education, awareness and delivery of prevention tools and services to SO Nigeria athletes, their families and communities by scaling and refining the lessons learned and best practices from the first year of the initiative.

Develop and steward local partnerships to provide: training of health care professionals, public awareness and advocacy, provision of donated Mosquito nets, voluntary counselling and testing and access to treatment.

SO Nigeria has established relationships with Red Cross, UNICEF, Ministry of Health Nigeria, Malaria No More, Africare, Lions International, Youth Empowerment Development Initiative (YEDI), Peace Corps, Chamagne Foundation, Mission 5000 Plus, Development for Africa, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Kids & Teens Resource Centre (K&TRC), Hope For Family Development Initiative, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Family Care Africa, and Royal Heritage Health Foundation


  • World Health Malaria and AIDs days 2015, 1st May 2015 and 5th December 2015 respectively; over 3000 people in attendance. VCTs were carried out and mosquito nets and drugs given to those who tested positive. Sponsored by Coca Cola and partnered with YEDI, SO Nigeria used this as a platform to educate the public on malaria and HIV/AIDS. Attendees were tested for Malaria and HIV/AIDs, where tests were conducted by various partners and health professionals.
  • FHF (Family Health Forum), is another platform, which is used to educate the public on malaria and HIV/AIDs. At least 8 FHFs were conducted in 2015 and resulted in 1170 mosquito nets being distributes, 1267 total attendees, 450 volunteers testing and counseling.
  • In addition, over a 1000 mosquito nets were distributed and ACTS were also administered by the our professional partners, to those who tested positive Overall the SKILLZ program reached 2025 Athletes in 2015, which exceeded the original target and in its second year, is hoping to reach even more athletes.


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