Sexual, Reproductive, and Mental Health are pressing issues young adolescents face daily. How they respond in the face of these issues depends largely on how much-unbiased knowledge they have. But how will they know if they are not taught?
At myPaddi, we believe that young people, especially adolescents, should have the right knowledge to help them make informed choices about their sexual, reproductive, and mental health.
So, as part of our commitment to provide hands-on support to young people across Nigeria and Africa, we have embarked on an outreach tagged: Adolescent Reproductive and Mental Health Awareness Project for Secondary Schools.
The main aim of the project is to equip secondary school students with adequate comprehensible knowledge about their health and reproductive rights. Employing an adolescent-centered approach, the project will focus on topics peculiar but not restricted to these students, such as peer pressure, consent, and personal and menstrual hygiene, to mention only a few.
According to WHO, most girls reach reproductive age by 15. Some, even earlier. In Nigeria, 15-year-olds are still in secondary school. What’s more, the school environment is undoubtedly one of the most influential social influences in a child’s life. That being so, we have selected five secondary schools as the target for this current awareness project.
On Thursday, September 22, 2022, along with a team of doctors, nurses, counselors, social workers, and volunteers, we visited Urora Secondary School in Urora Community for the first leg of our project. While there, we educated the students on various topics, including abstinence, menstruation, personal hygiene, consent, and peer pressure.
The conversation began with sexual and reproductive health. One of the healthcare professionals, Dr. Nnamdi Ogbogu, took the stage to comprehensively educate the assembly of more than 500 students about abstinence and menstruation.
Furthermore, Rahmat Lami Yusuf, a social worker, took over to talk about personal hygiene, especially during menstruation with emphasis on proper use and disposal of sanitary pads, as well as cleaning of private areas. She ended her session by explaining, in no ambiguous terms, their sexual and reproductive rights, especially as it has to do with consent.
The talks ended with a mental health sensitization ably moderated by one of the counselors, Amen Odiase. To wrap up her session, she highlighted positive and negative peer influences and how they can take advantage of the former and steer clear of the latter.
The outreach to Urora Secondary School ended with a private consultation with the doctors, nurses, counselors, and social workers, which was immediately followed by the distribution of souvenirs by the volunteers.
We will be remiss to say we didn’t expect some resistance. Many years of treating sex as a taboo topic have discouraged healthy conversations and given room to half-baked knowledge and backward mindsets. But with a qualified team of professionals and volunteers, we are confident we made some progress. Students left the session equipped with accurate knowledge and a proper understanding of sexual, reproductive, and mental health.
In all, the outreach was a success, one that we hope continues throughout the project. myPaddi is committed to improving sexual, reproductive, and mental health one adolescent at a time.