Health Messenger Program

Special Olympics Nigeria is committed to breaking barriers and fostering inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Our believe is that everyone deserves the opportunity to have a healthy, quality and happy life experience. That is why we advocate for the health and overall well-being of people with intellectual disabilities through our ‘Health Messenger Program’.

The Health Messenger Program is a groundbreaking initiative designed to empower young people with and without intellectual disabilities to become health and wellness leaders, educators, advocates, and role models within their communities. It is a platform for them to raise their voices, share knowledge, and drive change within their communities. Health messengers are leaders who pursue healthy lifestyles and advocate for healthcare providers and governments to adopt inclusive policies around health, wellness services, education, and resources for people with intellectual disabilities.

People with intellectual disabilities often have difficulties in accessing healthcare services and information. By equipping them with the skills and knowledge to advocate for themselves, we create a more inclusive society where everyone’s health matters. Health Messengers are beacons of change, breaking down stigma and paving the way for a healthier and more inclusive future.

Since the launch of the ‘Health Messenger’ program in 2016, nearly 4,000 persons with intellectual disabilities have been trained to be health leaders and advocates.

Gallagher Coach Developer Training

The Gallagher Coach Developer program is a transformative initiative dedicated to elevating the skills and knowledge of coaches, whether they’re new or experienced, all with the ultimate goal of enhancing the performance of individuals with intellectual disabilities in sports and fitness activities. Through a dynamic combination of in-person and online training methods, this program has made a lasting impact on the sports scene.

One of the truly exceptional facets of this program is its unwavering commitment to inclusivity. By involving both new and established volunteer coaches, it ensures that a diverse spectrum of people is equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to be effective mentors. This approach recognizes that exceptional coaches can emerge from various backgrounds, celebrating the diversity within the coaching community.

The program’s success is ultimately measured by the growth and progress of the athletes it serves. Athletes under the guidance of trained coaches have witnessed improvements in their performance, instilling a sense of pride and accomplishment within the Special Olympics Nigeria community.

This program stands as a beacon of hope and progress in the realm of sports coaching. Its dedication to inclusivity, blended training approaches, and, most importantly, athlete development, serve as a testament to its effectiveness. Special Olympics Nigeria has ample reason to rejoice, as this program continues to pave the way for a brighter and more inclusive future in sports and fitness activities.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools (USC) program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change.

With sports as the foundation, the UCS program achieve its aim by implementing a three component model that offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These school climate of acceptance create a safe space where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.
This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement.

The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.

Special Olympics Nigeria is one of several Special Olympics program across the world currently implementing the UCS program in schools across Nigeria. Through the UCS program, we are creating a conducive, safe and inclusive school environment that accepts people with intellectual disabilities and affords them the same rights and privileges as other students to learn and play. Through this program, we ensure that people with intellectual disabilities and those without intellectual disabilities come together and engage in unified activities that promote social inclusion and acceptance in schools across Nigeria.

Together we are creating a Unified Generation that Chooses to Include!

Special Olympics Nigeria and Seamless HR officially Launch Codeable in Lagos

Special Olympics Nigeria, in partnership with SeamlessHR, has launched a new training program tagged “Codeable” to empower vulnerable youth with and without intellectual disabilities with technology skills, increasing their access to opportunities that enhance independence.

Speaking during the launch event, Adeola Oladugba, Special Olympics Nigeria Sports manager, explained that the partnership was born out of the need to include the vulnerable youth, especially those with intellectual disabilities, in new possibilities and opportunities asides from sports that would enable them to acquire competitive skills as they grow older and get fair opportunities like everyone.

The partnership which is the first of its kind is set to train over a hundred youths in the next three years, through two cohorts yearly. The plan is to expand this initiative across the world and encourage other tech firms to embrace it, while we also offer internship placements to the best performing students at the end of the program, said Deji Lana, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder of SeamlessHR.

Adetoun Akinsunmi Head of Customer Success, SeamlessHR, said as a tech company that has a long-standing record of servicing companies with technology. 

“The codeable initiative is a key step to empowering the right learning path and other skills such as coding, design thinking, product management, quality assurance coupled with some soft skills. It was a perfect opportunity to partner with Special Olympics Nigeria through their youth leadership programming to equip the youths with all-round skills that are relevant in the society” she said.

Emphasizing the benefit of the program, Ibiyemi Ayeni, Initiatives Manager, Special Olympics Nigeria stated that “the training goes beyond just technology but also deepens networking, growth, and inclusiveness in the society, advising participants to look beyond the immediate reward but get the best out of the program which will be embedded in them forever”

Special Olympics Nigeria is aimed at changing the misconceptions individuals have about people with intellectual disabilities through various sports training and athletic competitions in a variety of Olympic – type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities thus providing a platform where their abilities are celebrated in society.

Team Nigeria in Group C for the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022

The official draw ceremony for the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 to place teams into three groups was held on May 13, 2022, at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC). In the male 11-aside division, Nigeria has been drawn into Group C alongside Japan and Jamaica.

The unified football tournament, modeled after the FIFA World Cup and presented by Toyota, will begin on the 31st of July in Detroit and will bring over 300 athletes from 25 countries around the world to compete in Unified Sports® which brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same team, demonstrating how playing and competing together breaks down barriers and ultimately creates communities of acceptance and inclusion.

Special Olympics Nigeria athletes are upbeat as they intensify their training in preparation for the game. Team Nigeria’s first group stage match will be against Japan on the 1st of August 2022, followed by a match against Jamaica the following day.

Unified Cup Detroit 2022 grouping for male 11-aside division

The Unified Cup is expected to attract 10,000 spectators, 1,000 volunteers, and 500 family members and dignitaries, all with the common goal of breaking down social barriers through the joy of sport and the power of inclusion. Following the inaugural competition in Chicago in 2018, the Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022 will be the second tournament in this single-sport series.

SO Nigeria Selected to Compete in Special Olympics Unified Cup Detroit 2022

Special Olympics Nigeria has been announced among the twenty-five teams that will be participating in the Unified Cup 2022 presented by Toyota and supported by Hometown Sponsor, Ally Financial from July 31 to August 6.

The tournament will be hosted in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and is the second-ever tournament in this single-sport series, following the inaugural competition in 2018 in Chicago. Over 300 athletes with and without intellectual disabilities from around the world will join to celebrate the power of sports to drive inclusion through camaraderie, competition, and breaking down social barriers.

Other selected Special Olympics teams to participate in the tournament are:

Female teams – Burkina Faso, Caribbean (Haiti, Aruba, Bahamas), Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Bharat (India), Mexico, Russia, Slovakia, Serendib (Sri Lanka), the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.

Male teams – Brazil, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Nippon (Japan), Korea, Morocco, Paraguay, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the U.S.

Special Olympics Unified Sports brings together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same team, demonstrating how playing and competing together breaks down barriers and ultimately creates communities of acceptance and inclusion.

Competition and events throughout the week are expected to attract more than 10,000 spectators, 1,000 volunteers, and 500 family members and dignitaries to the tournament. Additionally, the competition will be broadcast by ESPN and reach millions of viewers across the globe.

Special Olympics Nigeria Athlete Got Talent

The Athlete Got Talent is an initiative of Special Olympics Nigeria to showcase and promote the talents of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in music, dance, and art using a unified approach.

The initiative commenced its first curriculum in August 2021, with a call for entry of unified teams (a person with and a person without ID paired). Those who met the selection criteria were admitted into a 3-month training program by certified professionals in Music, Dance, and Art. The participants were also taught how to use social media to promote their skills.

On the 4th of December, the 2021 pilot Athlete Got Talent initiative concluded with a grand finale in Ikeja, Lagos. The participating unified teams thrilled the audience in an entertaining and fun-filled way showcasing their fluid dance routines, captivating artwork, and enthralling musical performances.

Some highlights of the event were the electrifying group performance of the unified music and dance team members, the competitive performances of the unified teams, the recitals by students from invited special schools, and the performances by the guest artist.

The Manager, Initiatives Program, Ibiyemi Ayeni used the opportunity to commemorate World Disability Day 2021, by addressing the audience in a speech that was supported with a stage drama performed by the athletes. The message was a call urging all to stand for equal access to opportunities and services for people with intellectual disabilities as we work towards an inclusive and sustainable world. The event ended with an award and prize presentation to the winners of the competition in each category, and presentation of gift items to all participants.

Special Olympics Nigeria Pilots the Identification For Inclusion (ID4I) Solution

In a continuous effort to change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities (PWID), Special Olympics Nigeria is currently successfully implementing the ID4I (Identification for Inclusion) solution powered by the Mission Billion Challenge, and supported by the partnership of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The solution aims to facilitate the registration and issuance of a unique and secure National Identification Number (NIN) to people living with intellectual disabilities and their families.  Thus improving access to opportunities and services for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in our society and giving them further access to acquire vital documents and other social and welfare services beneficial to them.

The ID4I solution registration using a grassroot approach is currently ongoing in various special schools/inclusive schools within various local government areas across Lagos state. The activities entail coordinating information sessions for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families, providing orientation training to registration staff, and deploying mobile registration to capture biometrics within communities, hence encouraging the issuance of NIN to persons with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics Nigeria believes pioneering this grassroot solution is key to driving inclusion and scaling up identification enrolment of PWIDs and their family members across Nigeria.

Special Olympics Nigeria educates Ojo community about Health through the Skillz for Life Family Health Forum

On the 9th of December 2021, Special Olympics Nigeria held the Skillz for Life Family Health Forum in Ojo – Badagry Axis of Lagos state, to educate people with intellectual disabilities, their family members and community about Malaria and HIV awareness and its prevention.

The event featured lots of fun-filled activities, including health talks on Malaria and HIV, voluntary counselling and testing for participants, and distribution of mosquito nets.

Several special schools for people with intellectual disabilities in the area were in attendance. They include: Aganju Aka Primary School Okokomaiko (Inclusive Unit), Lady Atinuke Oyindamola Memorial Home School, Badagry, Igbehinadun School for Physically and Mentally Challenged Children Okokomaiko, and our host school Community Primary School Afromedia, Ajangbadi, Okokomaiko (Inclusive Unit).

Family members and athletes who attended the event were very happy that the programme was brought to their area and looked forward to more Special Olympics Nigeria programming in their community.

Identification for Inclusion (ID4I) project Commences with Knowledge Sharing Session with NIMC

Special Olympics Nigeria is one of the winners of the 2020 Mission billion challenge supporting the Identification for Inclusion (ID4I) solution.

The ID4I project kickstarted with a knowledge-sharing session (KSS) with some staff of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The session provided information on Special Olympics Nigeria, and the Special Olympics movement. Delving into intellectual disabilities, the causes, the various types, their uniqueness, and how to recognize and relate with people with intellectual disabilities. 

The goal of the session is to promote understanding of the different people with varying abilities as the process of registration of people with intellectual disabilities to obtain their National Identification Numbers (NIN). 

The envisioned outcome is the recognition and continuous inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in Nigeria.

Our appreciation to the Mission Billion challenge for their support and NIMC for partnering with us to implement this solution.

Click Here to see more pictures from this event.


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