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Home » Scholarships » Praise Akobo From Nigeria is OD Young Person of The Month – June 2024 – Opportunity Desk

Praise Akobo From Nigeria is OD Young Person of The Month – June 2024 – Opportunity Desk


Our OD Young Person of the Month is Praise Akobo from Nigeria. Praise Akobo has over 5 years of experience in social services, using education to drive wholesome  health. She is a Disability Inclusion Advocate and leads YieldUp Development Initiative as the Executive Director with focus on building young leaders especially Persons With Disabilities living in vulnerable communities and has hosted leadership training in universities. Praise is a Mandela Washington Fellow and has received opportunities like Young Innovators Award, Opportunity Desk Impact Challenge Changemaker 30 under 30 Award, Top 12 Finalist, Society For Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) Annual Conference Scholarship and Outlier Award by Farm Alert.

Read her amazing story below and be inspired.

PRAISE AKOBO

Currently, Praise is a Graduate Intern at Farm Alert, Abuja accompanying her Leadership and Creativity Award and supports Programmes in Dogalov Human Support Initiative, the only organisation in Nigeria pioneering Human-Animal Interactions, where she leads innovative ways of raising awareness, and supports visiting Autism and Disabilities centres in Abuja, Nigeria offering Animal Assisted Services. She is working to create an inclusive society for young persons with disabilities, by constructing sustainable libraries using reused plastic bottles, facilitating reading and creativity development where waste is turned into usable products in a supportive environment with the assistance of emotional support dogs, and this is ongoing.  Praise is also a Veterinary Doctor and a One Health/Welfare Enthusiast. 

On How She Started

Praise’s journey began with volunteering which sponsored her understanding of grassroot work and impact, but it was her lived experience with disability and the discrimination she observed that stirred actions, particularly during my undergraduate years in Benue State, that truly shaped her path. For instance, she encountered Sedoo, an eight-year-old girl found crying in her school uniform along the road. Despite being hearing impaired or perhaps because of the fact, she was bullied at school and refused to return to the place meant to nurture her mind. Praise’s investigation revealed that 95% of young people with disabilities in the community faced discrimination, severely hindering their access to education. She started by transforming perceptions of youths with disabilities, beginning with the Pila  community and extending to other areas within Makurdi, where these individuals are often labeled as “imbeciles.” This effort involved providing communities and caregivers with weekly content and step-by-step explanations through transcribed materials. 

On Her Successes

The efforts of Praise and her team have so far educated over 200 rural children, provided access to books, collected 5,000 plastic bottles, and secured a site in Benue State for a community library. This initiative, tagged Project BALE (Build A Local Eco-friendly Library), aims to serve as a physical center in JorFada Community. Project BALE currently targets illiteracy among youths with disabilities in JorFada, using innovative activities like creating art from plastic bottles and therapy animal sessions to boost their confidence and creativity, with plans to replicate it in another geopolitical zone of Nigeria after two years. They are prepared to begin laying the foundation for the library, with crowdfunding efforts set to launch in June 2024. With community involvement from the outset they are confident in achieving their goals and expanding this initiative, while partnering with DevTrain Community and Entrepreneurship Development Initiative and Dogalov Human Support Initiative. In addition to Project BALE, YieldUp Development Initiative oversees several other impactful projects like Project LEADvocacy: Focused on cultivating leaders passionate about community change through leadership training, online capacity-building sessions, hackathons, and presidential debates on campuses. These hackathons specifically address the needs of Persons With Disabilities, guiding them from idea to implementation, and how to be contributors in society.

On Her Challenges and Future Plans

Together with her team, Praise conducted house-to-house visits with disabled youths and organised open-air street classes. Although they faced challenges, such as the reluctance of some families to acknowledge family members with disabilities and scepticism about their work, persistence and community engagement eventually earned their trust. The Project IC-EAST (Inclusive Climate: Empowering Abilities For A Sustainable Tomorrow), an initiative she started includes the establishment of Community Environmental Clubs for Youths with Disabilities, promoting climate change awareness and environmental responsibility. They utilise the P.L.A.N (Plan, Learn, Act Now) game card in partnership with Ecocykle  to enhance understanding of climate issues, inspiring action through engaging gameplay. So far, they have raised three champions who advocate for disability inclusion and teach other youths to create art from recyclables tagged WASTE to VASE. This is something she plans to build on in the future. They are a 5 man leadership and also built a team of 15 role specific volunteers across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones, advocating for and implementing their programs, transcribed educational materials to native languages, and made flower and pencil vases which have received recognitions and sales to support their work. They are currently working on recruiting more volunteers to kick start their community in July. 

Her Words of Advice For The Youth

My advice to young people seeking to make a difference in their communities is to look for existing efforts that align with their interests and consider volunteering or collaborating. Collective action often achieves more than individual efforts. As you engage in this process, keep building and expanding your impact. Remember, that idea of yours that may seem small has the capacity to grow into something big.

You can connect with Praise Akobo on InstagramTwitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Also check out her project on Facebook here and on InstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

Who will be the next OD Young Person of the Month?

You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. Oh! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader, or subscriber! Share!





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