NIGHT TO SHINE
Updated: Apr 14
Christina Tackie, a special needs child of Village of Hope, arrives for 'Night to Shine.'
Physical disability is a major health and social issue all over the world. Disabilities may arise from several conditions, such as genetics, birth injuries, accidents or diseases. Irrespective of the cause, there is a need to raise awareness of disabilities and their impacts on the families of people living with disabilities. In Ghana, people with disabilities and their families are often stigmatized due to our sociocultural belief system. Most of these families tend to hide their children with special needs from the public and also exclude them from all social gatherings.
This year, on February 10, 2023, Village of Hope organized an unprecedented prom night for people with special needs dubbed 'Night to Shine' in collaboration with the Tim Tebow Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, to share God's love with the most vulnerable people in society, aged 14 and above, and to use this as an opportunity to raise awareness about the need to support people with disabilities in our communities. The event was held at Kobi’s Event Center located in East Legon, Accra. This year's event marked the ninth year that more than 721 churches from around the world collaborated to host 'Night to Shine' for more than 115,000 honored guests, with the help of more than 215,000 volunteers. However, this was the first time 'Night to Shine' has been hosted in Ghana, West Africa.
The program commenced with a limousine ride for a total of 100 guests with special needs from Dzorwulu Special School, Osu Children’s Home, and New Horizon School. Each guest was made-up and accompanied by a volunteer for a red carpet-moment. As the honored guests made their grand entrance, a group of volunteers stood along the red carpet's edge, cheering and welcoming them with encouragement signs like "You Are Beautiful!," "You Are Loved!," "You Are a Queen!" and "You Are a King!."
All is set at Kobi's Event Center for Night to Shine (left)
Special guests arrive at the event center in a limousine (middle)
Make-up for special guests at the event (right)
Felix Nimako welcomes a special guest with a warm hug as she makes her grand entrance (left)
A special guest exhibits her talent through singing (right)
Sean O’hare, a representative of the Tim Tebow Foundation, talks about the Foundation (left)
Guest Speaker: Farida Bedwei (middle)
Helina Mensah, Director of Special Education, addresses the audience (right)
The guest speaker, Farida Nana Efua Bedwei, a software engineer and cofounder of Logiciel (a fin-tech company in Ghana), addressed the audience and encouraged our honored guests not to limit themselves to their disabilities but rather strive to prove to society that they can also rise to become important personalities as she has. Farida was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age one. She was home-schooled until the age of 12, when she was sent to a government school in Ghana for the first time. She was later enrolled at the St. Michael Information Technology Center to study computing. She is currently one of the best fintech software engineers in Ghana.
Another dignitary present at the event was Helina Mensah, the Director of Special Education in Ghana. She expressed her gratitude to the organizers of the program, Village of Hope and the Tim Tebow Foundation, for hosting such a wonderful program for people with special needs and encouraged parents and caregivers not to give up on their wards with such disabilities but rather encourage them and provide them with all the support they might need to become successful in life.
To climax the event, each special guest was adorned with crowns or tiaras as kings and queens. It was such a beautiful moment to behold as the eyes of volunteers and invited guests were filled with tears of joy.
Some of the volunteers with their special guests on the dance floor (left)
Volunteers adorn special guests with crowns and tiaras (right)