We are all citizens of this world, and Move Together’s PT Day of Service (PTDOS) unites us all together on one day to transform lives and communities locally for a global effect with compassion, collaboration, and community. On October 12, 2019, the 5th annual PTDOS brought together people from 40 countries, all 50 US states, and 4 of 6 Nigerian geopolitical zones, including 5 projects in Lagos, Nigeria alone, to serve with their communities in transcending and transformative ways. We shared last month about the Oyo State physical therapists (PTs) participation in PTDOS 2018. Now we share the multi-year engagement by one group of PTs in the Lagos State of Nigeria. Their 2017 initiative was just the beginning as they took their 2018 efforts to a different level, and in 2019, they took their 2018 program expanding its impact and enhancing the experience.
The Lagos State PT community began their work in 2017 after learning about the PTDOS initiative through the World Confederation of Physical Therapists (WCPT). Fifteen PTs came together to serve locally for a global effect by cleaning and sanitizing the Chapel of Transfiguration on the Lagos University campus. They anticipated a 1 to 2-hour work effort, but it became a 3 to 4-hour effort. They did not falter from their work, but transcended knowing their effort was worthwhile to revitalize the beauty of the community church. They remarked how the opportunity was rewarding as they built a community amongst themselves, experienced the splendor of a church sparkling from floor to ceiling, brought awareness to the physical therapy profession, and were thanked for their compassion and care for the community gathering in the Chapel of Transfiguration.
In 2018, the Lagos State PT community wanted to move their efforts to another level and engage the community directly in their programming and efforts. Guided by the 2018 theme, transform, they explored ways to collaborate with secondary schools in the community and to provide interactive and transformative awareness of mental and physical health. They collaborated with the Federal Science and Technical College, a secondary school in Yaba, to provide an afternoon’s worth of programming for students, lecturers, and the administrative management team. The focus was not only on those present but in sharing life skills and knowledge that it may be transmitted back to families at home and peers through social media.
The 2018 program focused on the health needs of the community: suicide rates were increasing; drug misuse and abuse continued; and visual awareness of improper mechanics in physical activity and daily activities. Thus, they developed a multi-discipline, multi-activity approach to address these health concerns on the campus and throughout the larger community. They provided a free basic health examination: blood pressure, pulse, and BMI readings. They showed and explained to students the basic components for proper sitting in the classroom and handling of their backpack when carrying and moving it on and off their back. Lecturers received insights on proper body awareness when they are standing in the classroom teaching or leaning over working with students.
Beyond these hands-on activities, they brought in several educators and professionals to share about mental health, drugs, and pursuance of careers after school. They provided senior students an opportunity to debate before ending the day with some culture and fun. Ojelade Temitope, a physical therapist and scholar from the University of Wits in South Africa, shared with the community gathered the impacts and implications of mental health. Dr. Andrew Saba, a pharmacist, took the students on an expository on the effects and impacts of drug abuse and misuse. Physiotherapists spoke about the profession and the general importance of their education today for their future tomorrow. Two debate teams were formed to discuss the topic of poverty as the linchpin causing mental illness globally. But the students took the debate on the causes and effects of mental illness beyond the confines of poverty to the rich and rising causation from social media, especially on younger generations. The day was not all assessment, debates, and discussion, but they shared the importance of movement that comes from traditional dance. And the day concluded with a DJ session of dance and music with stretching and movement exercises.
The program was not the only form of community collaboration and outreach. In the days prior to the event, Muyiwa, a PT and leader of the initiative, was informed that the site was booked for a different event, so they would have to find another location. The community came together and quickly mobilized a new site with tents, chairs, and a speaker system. They reached out to the PT community and beyond and were able to raise 120,000 nairas (~$330), which covered the additional expenses and beyond. They provided biscuits and refreshments for the students, which of course the students enjoyed. No challenge is too big when compassionate hearts come together to maximize lives through healthier living and movement.
Before they left the Federal Science and Technical College campus, they reinstated the Red Cross club. With this, they provided education and resources regarding proper techniques for warming up before sporting events, the PRICE (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) method for dealing with injuries and the importance of general physical activity for the prevention of non-communicable diseases. The additional funds raised went toward purchasing basketballs, jump ropes, and medical equipment for the club as well as providing more opportunities for physical activity, prevention, and cure for the students. They truly embodied compassion, collaboration, and community in their 2018 PTDOS initiative.
The journey and impact do not stop there nor do the challenges, but nothing is impossible when compassionate, collaborative hearts come together with a common vision. For PTDOS 2019, the Lagos PTs headed by Muyiwa proposed a similar program from 2018 to the leadership at Queens College. Queens College is a secondary girl’s boarding school in Yaba. The PTDOS program focused on women’s health education, maximizing today for the future, and addressing sexual assault and harassment. The energy coming from the 1,000 students, the 80 plus physical therapists, students, and their interdisciplinary colleagues cannot be fully captured. And the exciting piece is that the energy and transformation have not stopped but continues to exponentially grow.
The PTs of Lagos brought to the Queens College girls, teachers, and administrators confidence and vulnerability to step out and take ownership of their health, their bodies, their minds, and their being. Nigerian PT and actress, Jemime Osunde, had a heart-to-heart conversation with the young ladies sharing how life is more than what you can see. Life is not just about the glamour and the show on the screen but developing a well-rounded life, where academics and medical studies have as much importance as extracurricular activities. You can do much more.
Dr. T. O. Ajepe provided a life-altering, expository lecture on cervical cancer. The depths and applicability of understanding about cervical cancer, how to prevent it, the importance of early detection, the signs, and the treatment touched the young lady’s lives and also taught the physical therapists and others present something they did not know. Muyiwa says what was amazing was the intensity the students were listening, the number of questions presented afterward, and the number of young ladies who came up afterwards to share their concerns about their health. The group leaders and school leadership are working to respond and follow-up on all inquiries and further educate the ladies on women’s health.
Beyond educational sessions and lectures similar to 2018, they incorporated fun and movement with some Nigerian music and dancing. Nigerian dance therapy gets your whole body moving, working all the joints within the body. They finished up the dancing with a dance competition and goodies. And through the funds raised, they were able to update their sports equipment with new jump ropes, basketball, volleyball, and football.
Muyiwa reflects on the day, the preparation, and what’s to come as a full embodiment of the theme, Compassion, Collaboration, and Community. “It takes compassionate hearts to serve, to go out, and passionately give of one’s time and resources.” Muyiwa’s heart for spreading the mission of physical therapy and for maximizing the lives of young people is seen in his smile, heard in his words, and expressed through his selfless giving. But the compassion of one requires a community of collaborative compassionate people to take action. He is grateful for all those who joined him and others around the world to make a sustainable difference in the life of another.
The PTs of Lagos look to expand their collaborative work with local secondary schools in a couple of ways. First, they hope to continue collaborative engagements with Queens College offering to provide physical therapy services during their sports week. Second for year three, 2020, of this health education programming, they are looking to reach out and offer the program at multiple secondary schools in the area. We look forward to continuing this journey and following the compassion, collaboration, and community development occurring in Nigeria.
These PTDOS stories from Lagos and Oyo states, Nigeria are only two of the 100s of amazing stories happening around the globe each year and beyond. Thanks to the over 80 PTs and interdisciplinary colleagues who served at Queens College and the thousand more PTDOS participants around the world who made the 5th Annual PT Day of Service another transforming day for people near and far. Follow PT Day of Service and Move Together on social media for more stories.
Have you participated in PTDOS? If so, we would love to hear your story and share the impact you, your colleagues, family, and friends are making in your community and around the world. Share below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you inspired by the story or by your own PTDOS experience? Would you like to join the Move Together movement? Learn more about our various programs and ways to get engaged:
- Pro Bono Incubator ~ Resources, mentorship, and grants for increasing the access to quality rehabilitation medicine through pro bono clinics and programs across the US.
- Clinic Development Program ~ Collaborating with local clinicians and community leaders for the development of sustainable access to rehabilitation medicine around the world.
- Catalyst Club ~ Critical mass of friends, family, clinicians, educators, researchers, and students, catalyzing sustainable and responsible change in communities globally.
- PT Day of Service ~ Bringing the physiotherapy profession, interdisciplinary colleagues, friends, and family together for a transformative, transcending, and sustainable local impact for a global effect.