The first confirmed case of the COVID-19 was announced on the 27th of February 2020 when an Italian citizen tested positive for the virus. The first indigenous case was announced on the 9th of March. A Nigerian citizen the Italian came in contact with had contacted the disease.On the 29th of March, the President of Nigeria announced a lock-down with the number of COVID-19 cases haven risen to 97. No palliatives and welfare whatsoever for the citizens, recipes for mental stress, and depression were set.
The internet became the only way people could come together globally, and with so many challenges going on to keep people’s mind busy globally, it was a window of opportunity to introduce and impact not just the Nigerian populace that had very little to no idea at all about origami, but to reach out to the world.
Hence we initiated a new Challenge that will not only exercise people’s minds but engage them with Origami as a form of therapy and from the pandemic stress and realities. Application forms were rolled out with the support of Art in Medicine Nigeria to tertiary institution undergraduates and Professionals for the very first season to be held for 4 weeks between 1st – 26th of April and we had a total of 62 applicants.
The idea was to put all of these people in a group and with the help of our Origami, YouTube videos help the execute new origami models daily and submit their entries in other to get them inspired by other people’s creativity.
We let the window open that they could paint, decorate, and write creatively about their Origami models. We didn’t want to leave any creative capacity unturned. It was also made a drill to encourage people to be committed to it. Award categories were further created to encourage participants to give their best. Weekly evictions was initiated for participants that didn’t meet a set minimum amount of Origami models folded. All this was in a bid to get commitment out of them.
Since the eviction wasn’t the point as we wanted to engage them as well as possible, we left a backdoor for evicted candidates to return into the group if they could fold all the models for the week and send the entries to one of our moderators as prove. A total of 31 candidates made it to the final week with 19 candidates fulfilling and folding with 327 origami entries from 19 origami models.
The second season’s challenge was for 21 days and took place between May 3rd and 23rd of May with 65 participants with international participants from South Africa and Australia. A total of 35 participants made it to the final week recording over 527 entries in the 3 weeks of Theragami.
There were clamoring for a 3rd season. Former participants had friends and family that had seen how much paper could do and looked forward to giving the Japanese Art of Origami a go. A total of 92 participants started the challenge and over 400 entries where submitted.
The feedback we got after the seasons where a testament to the therapeutic nature of Origami as participants testified how the saw remarkable improvement on memory Enhancement, focus, and commitment to a cause. It also served as a beautiful distraction from the present realities that were not so palatable.
Some participants even talked about getting out of depression as a result of the creative routine exercise. For sustainability, a community was initiated for interested participants who had gone through the therapy challenge to continue to fold,interact and share their origami experiences post the Therapy challenge. The first Nigerian Origami community.
There are plans to use this social experiment to further implement and explore Theragami fully in rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and cooperate workplaces post COVID-19.
Here are some of the feedback from the participants;
-“Learning Origami has been an interesting journey. Will add it to my daily activity as soon as possible”- Ayoola Omoovo(Visual Artist)
-“It gives me much joy that Origami is a form of Art I can execute and teach others”- Zainab Oluwambe(Nursing Student)
-“With Love in my heart, I made a lot of Origami Crowns to share around”- Dr Funmilayo Adesalu
-“I’m an artist based in Abuja, this pandemic period almost drove me to depression. I wasn’t motivated to create anything. Honestly, origami challenge reignited the fire in me to start creating again. It was just the therapy I needed for my troubled mind”-Rose Wylie(Visual Artist)
-“After completing a model, I feel like YES I did it!” Been really therapeutic as it engages my mind and helps me with memory retention, relaxes and focus”- Omolade Odulate(Banker)
-“I decided to try out the Origami Therapy Challenge because I wanted to learn something new, now I’m a not just immersed now, I’d like to learn it on a deeper level”- Okeimute Ogude (Physiotherapist)
-“The Origami Therapy experience has been a cutting edge! Or may I say FOLDING EDGE. I say this because you are exploring the social and psychological of Origami while bringing artistic ideas. African has a lot to offer the world with Origami”- Kyoko Kimura Morgan(Origami Teacher South Africa)
-“This Origami experience has thought me that even though you don’t know what will happen in life, you don’t have the final picture, staying through to the process is the most important as you’d be pleasantly surprised at your outcome”- Ekugo Chioma (Final year Medical student).
Article complied by Oluwatobi Sodimu- Origamist Supported by Olympus Ade-Banjo, Aishat Aliyu.
Enjoy some of the beautiful entries below;