In a significant stride towards fostering disability inclusion and prioritizing mental health services, Charis Healthcare and Community Support Initiative, a faith-based non-profit organization in Jos, conducted a two-day awareness campaign, “We Ring The Bell” (#WRTB), as part of the ongoing Inclusion First Project in Plateau State. The campaign, funded by the Liliane Fonds and implemented with technical support from the Leprosy Mission in Nigeria (TLMN), witnessed an enthusiastic response from students and staff, with over 1,530 participants in attendance.
During the campaign, the Charis team engaged with school management, students, and other stakeholders to amplify awareness, dispel stigmas, foster empathy, and generate support for promoting mental well-being and the inclusion of children and youths with disabilities (CYWDs) in educational institutions across Plateau State. Principals from St. Paul’s Academy and St. John’s College, the participating schools, welcomed the initiative and expressed their commitment to implementing the recommendations put forth by Charis Healthcare.
In an interview, Principal Mrs. Udeozo Augustina of St. Paul’s Academy highlighted the importance of disability inclusion, stating, “We believe that every child, regardless of their abilities, deserves equal opportunities to thrive in an educational environment. This campaign has shed light on the need for inclusive infrastructure and specialized training for our staff to better support children with disabilities.” Vice Principal Mr Dung Davou of St. John’s College echoed these sentiments, emphasizing, “Addressing mental health is crucial for overall student well-being. We are grateful for Charis Healthcare’s efforts in creating awareness and encouraging schools to prioritize mental health services.”
During the campaign, students enthusiastically participated in various activities and engaged in dialogue about disability inclusion and mental health. One student, Seyilnen, shared her thoughts, saying, “I never fully understood the challenges faced by students with disabilities until this campaign. It’s essential that we create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. We all deserve equal opportunities to learn and grow.” Another student, Bright, expressed his support for the campaign, stating, “Mental health matters, and it’s important that schools prioritize it. We should promote empathy and understanding towards students dealing with mental health challenges.”
As the campaign concluded, students and representatives from both schools came together to sign a commitment to uphold the recommendations shared by Charis Healthcare. This symbolic act signifies their dedication to fostering disability inclusion and improving mental health services for school children in Plateau State.
Charis Healthcare and Community Support Initiative’s unwavering commitment to creating awareness and strengthening access to disability inclusion and mental health services demonstrates their dedication to supporting the well-being and educational growth of school children in Plateau State. Through initiatives like “We Ring The Bell,” they continue to inspire positive change and encourage other educational institutions to prioritize disability inclusion and mental health support.