News Update: Special Olympics Nigeria Skillz for Life program is back

After a break due to the coronavirus outbreak, our Skillz for Life program has resumed activities and we are currently implementing in the South Western part of Nigeria.

The Skillz for Life initiative sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation, provides malaria and HIV/AIDS education, free counselling and testing services to people with intellectual disabilities (ID), their families and communities.

The program is currently being implemented in four states namely, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo states in strict compliance with COVID-19 guideline. So far, coaches training for new volunteers have been conducted in Osun and Oyo states and a specialized training for master coaches, athlete leaders, parents and teachers held in Oyo state.

A Family Health Forum was also organized in Oyo state, with more still to come as the program implementation continues. Training for master coaches, athlete leaders, parents and teachers is also scheduled to hold in Delta state later this month.

Learn more about the Skillz for Life Initiative by clicking here.

HMD Global Drives Digital Inclusion

Special Olympics Nigeria Athletes with their Nokia C1 phones

HMD Global drives inclusion by helping people with intellectual disabilities stay connected, informed, and be inclusion advocates. Through the donation of phones to Special Olympics Nigeria athletes, the organization has enabled People with Intellectual Disabilities who have experienced marginalization in society, compounded with the loss of connection with peers due to the government-mandated lockdown (to prevent the spread of COVID-19) be digitally included in today’s data-driven world.

Nokia C1 Phone Presentation

People with Intellectual Disabilities – athletes – who attend special schools and participate in weekly sports training, often looked forward to these events to get educated, stay physically fit, and mingle with their peers. With the global pandemic which led to the government-imposed lockdown, schools were closed, and group gatherings such as sports training were also not allowed to prevent the spread of COVID -19. This left athletes at home unable to meet or communicate with friends.

In today’s world, a smartphone is more than a phone – it’s a means to connect with friends and the rest of the world, it’s a means to stay informed and educated on happenings around you and it’s also a means to share your voice and your beliefs.

HMD Global – Home of Nokia Phones, recognizing the need to ensure that people with Intellectual Disabilities are not left behind and excluded in a time like this, took on the digital inclusion initiative which involved the donation of phones to People with Intellectual Disabilities. Thus, earlier in November 2020, six lucky athletes were selected to be recipients of Nokia C1 phones. These were given to them in a handover event. The athletes were visibly excited and appreciative as they smiled and took pictures with their new phones.

Special Olympics Nigeria is grateful for the support of HMD Home of Nokia Phones in the digital inclusion of People with Intellectual Disabilities. Thank you HMD Global for putting a smile on the faces of our athletes and helping them stay connected, informed, and strong advocates for inclusion.

The Run For Inclusion

On 8th February 2020, some athletes and staff of SO Nigeria participated in the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon (ABLCM) through the sponsorship of Nilayo Sports who championed the inclusion of people with ID in society by ensuring they were not left behind in the city-wide marathon. Here, three athletes’ experience stand out to us.

Age is just a number – Tobi Bolarinwa

Tobi Bolarinwa, a teenager with learning disability completed the 42km Run with a lot of energy. The crowd watched in admiration as he crossed the finish line of a race many people above his age would not dare to attempt.

Growing up was challenging because I was different from my classmates. Understanding what the teacher taught was difficult and I was often called names like “Olodo” meaning “Dullard.” This made me sad and often left me in tears. My mom was worried, wondering why I, her last child was different from her three other children. And then she discovered that I had an intellectual disability and moved to a different school – Atunda-Olu, a special school in Surulere.

Special Olympics Nigeria came to my school in 2015 and I was registered as an athlete and found that I loved Athletics and Football. Since then, I participated in the SO Nigeria School Sports Day Competition in 2016 and Skillz for Life program in 2015 and 2018. These programs have helped me find joy, make friends and develop my skills in sport, trained as a Special Olympics Nigeria Health Messenger, facilitating aerobics sessions in some special schools.

This had made me feel much better about myself, and I have improved in schoolwork too and even received a merit award as the 2nd best special pupil in 2018.

The ABLCM gave me a chance to display the sports skills I’ve gathered over the years, especially in Athletics. I am grateful to Nilayo Sports for including everyone in the marathon. I am very proud of my medal and hope to get more medals in the future. I attend trainings at the National Stadium to practice Athletics and Football and hope to achieve my dream of becoming great footballer in the future.

Grateful to give back to society – Kemi Musa

An athlete, Kemi Musa, is on the other side of the health equipment as she helps conduct free health screening.

Being on the receiving end of health screening is great. Through Special Olympics Nigeria, I have received free health screenings at least three times a year for several years. Therefore, when SO Nigeria organized the Health Outcome Evaluation training for athletes and volunteers to learn how to take basic health metric, I knew I had to be a part of it. I did and learnt a lot including how to handle several equipment and take readings such as height, weight, Body mass index (BMI) and more. At the 2019 World Games Abu Dhabi, the importance of health was emphasized as I was screened by international doctors and volunteers who ensured we were in good shape to play the various sports. My team – Unified Basketball won a silver medal and we rejoiced. Yet, I wanted more ways to add value to society.

In the days leading to the ABLCM, SO Nigeria had a booth at the stadium where free health screening was offered to the public. I quickly indicated my interest and took this chance to give back to society. I helped with the health screening and got to interact with people as they came to measure their BMI, blood pressure and other health metrics. And so, at the ABLCM I ran for inclusion and the value people with different abilities bring to society.

Thank you, Nilayo Sports, for enabling me to give back to society and driving the acceptance of people with different abilities in society.

Running for Lagos, a state that has a special space in my heart – Victor Tinubu

My name is Victor Tinubu, and I was named after Mr. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who was the governor of Lagos state when I was found and taken into a special centre in Lagos. Hence, I am fondly referred to as ‘Jagaban’. I was born with Down Syndrome and currently taking vocational classes in hair dressing – barbing as I play sports at a special centre in Lagos which is my home.

I was excited to be part of the ABLCM as it presented an opportunity to be part of a state-wide event and make my state proud. When I ran in the 10km Fun Run, I ran for inclusion because the people of Lagos state included me when I was younger. I believe people with intellectual disabilities have gifts and talents that the society can benefit from. Although I play sports, I’m also known for my dancing skills, especially Gbe body e!

I’m grateful to Nialyo Sports for driving inclusion by letting people like me with different abilities to participate in the ABLCM.