Under the Tunaweza Inclusive Education project, improving mental health among students was another important point of focus for the project. This project’s implementation was during the high-peak time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools opening and closing, money scarcity everywhere, and overall change of lifestyle for most people. Focusing on the mental health of students living with disabilities was very crucial because whatever the rest of the students were facing, they were facing it on a more advanced scale. We conducted a workshop with the students about their rights. These rights-based workshops were able to contribute to bridging the ignorance gap, a big contributing factor to the high abuse cases regarding people living with disabilities.
We aimed to ensure that our students were well aware of their rights or at least had an idea about them. Awareness would work as a protection tool for themselves and their community members living with disabilities. Knowledge is power, a saying we agree with. For years on end, PWDs were ignored as important or impactful members of the community which led to neglect. This neglect brought a target on the backs of PWDs because they didn’t have the community to defend them. Informing and reminding PWDs of their rights was therefore an important aspect of this project. Under the same umbrella, we organized inspirational talks led by Dr. Kristina Zaccaria who centered on the behavioral health issues of children living with disabilities and how the students can go about them.
We went ahead to hold sessions on mental health with the students themselves to create a platform for them to express themselves in safe spaces. We also organized meetings with parents on how to handle PWD children without affecting their confidence and mental health overall. While providing guide referrals to community livelihood programs they can involve their children to keep them moving and equip them with business skills.
Tunaweza also organized end-of-term conferences which were used as a platform to empower the students and let them know that the futures they wanted were possible as long as they put in the work. This section of the project was aimed at empowering students and bringing back hope for their hopes and dreams despite everything that was going on around them. It was to make them focus on their goals despite the challenges life would throw at them.