Taking Our Youth Empowerment curriculum to Ogun State – Not Too Young to #WASH!
This week the Wellbeing Foundation took its Adolescent Skills and Drills Personal, Social and Health Education Curriculum to Ogun State in Nigeria. Coming just after the United Nations marked International Youth Day, we piloted our newly-revised curriculum at the Ogun State Summer Camp to 237 children, with a focus on water, sanitation and hygiene – known as WASH.
We were greeted in Ogun State by a cohort of children who were keen to learn and responded eagerly to our teaching methods. There were a number of stars who, having learned the World Health Organization standard of washing hands, took to the microphone to talk their peers through the process once more. Each child pledged to teach their friends at school and family at home proper hand washing techniques – so I welcomed them as new Wellbeing Foundation WASH ambassadors!
Our curriculum is formed of three core pillars – Your Rights and Your Body, Healthy Relationships, and Planning Your Future. As a passionate advocate for women and girls, I led a further break-out ‘Girl Talk’ session with 115 girls, focusing on proper menstrual hygiene management and its importance for girls to be able to attend education and reach their full potential. During a full and frank discussion, I felt that we dispelled any notion of a ‘taboo’ around the topic, which can have serious health repercussions for girls. At these sessions and in the curriculum text itself, no topic is off limits, which allows young people to receive information they sometimes struggle to get elsewhere. The questions children ask can be very revealing and feed back into the further development of our curriculum.
Our sessions were warmly welcomed by Dr Babafemi Adenuga, Special Adviser to the Ogun State Governor on Health, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, and Mr Aikulola, Director of Primary and Higher Education, Ogun State and Guests Manager, Ogun Summer Camp. Following this successful pilot we will look to expand and scale-up the programme across the state and throughout Nigeria.
On a wider note, this is an example of how the Wellbeing Foundation Africa always works in a global setting and on the frontlines of health and education. Earlier this year, our Founder-President Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki launched the global WASH campaign and led a delegation to Washington D.C. – meeting with the World Bank, the United States State Department and Congress amongst others. Those meetings were informed by our work on the frontline and, in turn, have led to the expansion of our programmes, such as the WASH training and advocacy for Hygiene in Healthcare Facilities across Nigeria, and WASH in Schools as piloted in Ogun State this week. The situation is urgent: in Nigeria, 29% of healthcare facilities do not have access to safe water and toilets, whilst one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to UNESCO, do not attend school during their menstrual cycle, and can miss as much as twenty percent of a given school year. Programmes such as the one we launched this week in Ogun State, and the work of our MamaCare midwives in healthcare facilities across Nigeria, are part of our commitment to driving the change that is needed for wellbeing and health for all.