Grace Jerry

2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, Nigeria

Promoting awareness of COVID-19 through music

Music is a universal language, able to unite people of all ages, nationalities, and abilities.  This universality inspired Grace Jerry, a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumna from Nigeria, to educate people about COVID-19 through her song “Take Responsibility.”

Grace is founder of the Inclusive Friends Association—a nonprofit that promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in Nigeria—and a well-known disability rights advocate.  An avid singer, Grace uses her platform and her voice to give back to her community and inspire hope among people with disabilities.

“Stay home, stay safe, stay strong… It’s time to take responsibility – play your part.”

2015 Alumna Grace Jerry in her song “Take Responsibility”

Reaching the most vulnerable

When Grace was 21, a car accident left her with a spinal injury.  Since then, she founded Inclusive Friends and was titled Miss Wheelchair Nigeria, serving as a spokeswoman for 25.5 million people living with disabilities in Nigeria.

The Inclusive Friends Association promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in Nigeria and supports persons with disabilities to lead fulfilled lives in their communities, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

Grace Jerry performs “Take Responsibility” in the song’s music video.

Between underlying health challenges and daily contact with assistive devices and caregivers, persons with disabilities are often particularly vulnerable to viruses like COVID-19.  On top of this, many persons with disabilities lack access to pertinent information – which is why Grace ensured her song and music video could be enjoyed by people of all abilities.

“Raising awareness and sharing accurate information are vital parts of the prevention process. Providing these messages in all-inclusive formats means no one gets left behind as we fight to end the pandemic,” Grace says.  “It is a collective responsibility to protect everyone.”

Educating listeners through song

In the song, Grace sings, “Stay home, stay safe, stay strong… It’s time to take responsibility – play your part,” while a woman signs the lyrics for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

These are the main messages Grace wanted to share with listeners on how they can prevent the spread of COVID-19.  After speaking to friends who stopped listening to the news because of the fear it caused, Grace knew she had to find an innovative way to get important information to citizens.

“The combination of the right lyrics, rhythm and instruments can stir strong emotions, give hope, engage audiences and amass people to take action.  This makes music the perfect partner for change and awareness,” Grace says.

Most importantly, the song has offered reassurance in a time of fear and anxiety.  “‘Take Responsibility’ has given people hope and assured humanity that we will come out of this,” Grace says.  “Music will continue to be that very powerful tool to bring about the needed change we want to see in our world.”

This story is part of an ongoing series highlighting Fellowship Alumni who are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their countries. 

Written by Abbie Wade.

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