iFoldedit Origami Nigeria Organized and completed a 3 sequel Origami Therapy Challenge from March through to June 2020. Over 250 Nigerian and African students and professionals were introduced to the Art of Origami virtually with over 1237 Origami model entries in the cause of the period.
This didn’t only help people’s mental health in a period of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety from the nationwide lockdown that resulted from a global COVID-19 pandemic but also conceived an unprecedented stride in the spread of origami in the African continent – particularly in its most populous country. The Origami Society Nigeria.
The Society which was built to spread the passion and possibilities of origami is also partly a charity-based organization in the sense that origami is intended to be used as a platform to promote social empathy and increase the awareness of mental health issues. It started with enthusiasts from the 3 seasons of origami therapy who have come to love the art and cherish its brotherhood.
Their first project tagged, ‘Origami In Mental Health’ led by Oluwatobi Sodimu who is also the founder of Society, held in October 2020 in commemoration of World Mental Health Day. The 2-day event kicked off with a virtual conference on the 9th of October and was concluded with an outreach the following day. The virtual conference was first of its kind in Nigeria and most definitely in the West African sub-region as it was graced by the presence of origami heavyweights from around the world, mental health experts, nutrition expert, and a consultant psychiatrist from Nigeria; who all expounded on the topics of mental health, the role of theragami as a contemporary intervention in mental health and local actions to improve mental health advocacy in underreached communities.
Origami Therapists such as Dr. Lizzie Burns from the British Origami Society and Toshiko Kobayashi from Theragamist Association New in New York were able to extol the connection Origami has with the brain. We also had Psychiatric consultants while art curators such as Oyindamola Fakeye and Mr. Kunle Adewale from Art in Medicine talked about the ‘Role Empathy and Art’ plays in having sustainable mental health. Mr. Ebenezer Anifowose, a seasoned nutritionist took on the essential impact of diet and food security on mental health. With over 100 participants registering from all over the world, the virtual conference was a huge success.
The second day which was the World Mental Health Day was no less fulfilling as we visited the patients and Caregivers of Grace Cottage Clinics Ilupeju Lagos lead by one of the best Psychiatrists in the land, Dr. Ogunnubi Peter. The patients and Caregivers anxious awaited our arrival, and we with representatives from the Society such as Dr. John Adenle, Zainab Oluwambe, Olukunle Tanimowo, Ugonna Nwakunor led by Oluwatobi Sodimu. Guiding the patients and Caregivers through the steps, they were able to make their first Origami models with their own hands which included the Origami heart, Windmill, and a box. There were smiles all over the place and wonder of what they could create with their own hands with a few minutes of detailed instructions. There was also a music intermission by Dr. John and his Harmonica group with renditions from Saxophones and Clarinets. It was indeed a joyful time.
In the end, an intertwined Mette ring designed by Mette Pederson and inspired by Amy Castle a Primary Maths Teacher in the U.K was installed in the Facility as a token from the Society to adorn the facility with the wonders of Origami. It was indeed a memorable day for all parties involved. The Theragami session was streamed live on Facebook to be watched virtually by over 3 thousand people. We also stuck a partnership with the mental health facility to include Origami as a form of mental health intervention for their patients going forward. The installation was directed by Ugonna Nwakunor a member of Origami Society Nigeria.
We like to state that we owe this success to the passion and leadership of our Society’s outreach committee and we enjoyed the support and endorsement from our sister societies: Origami Therapy Association in New York, OrigamiUSA, British Origami Society, and Art in Medicine Projects Nigeria. With so much more to come, this marked a new beginning of an Origami revolution in Nigeria.