Youth of the Month: Michael Showunmi, the teacher championing inclusion for PWDs

 Youth of the Month: Michael Showunmi, the teacher championing inclusion for PWDs

A teacher, education, disability and inclusivity advocate and founder of Raising Star Africa is what Michael Thompson Showunmi is and even more.

Michael doesn’t look like the Shawn Michaels of this world; your typical ‘complete and fit’ human, but that didn’t become a barrier as he is a strong and relentless fighter boxing all odds out of the way.

The Micheal we know now is a product of a heartbreaking twist of fate, a mother’s love, a hopeful heart and a determination to succeed. Join CrispNG as we take a deep look at the beauty that has sprung up amidst crushed paths.

In the beginning

Michael was born ‘normal’, without a disability. However, things changed when 2-year-old Michael caught the polio virus, which he later found to be acute flaccid paralysis.

Efforts by his parents to salvage the situation proved abortive, the intervention of numerous doctors didn’t save him from losing his ability to walk. And so forever from the age of two Michael lost a human ability, but was there hope?

The transition from disability to this-ability

On the difference between disability and this-ability, Michael said, “Disability is the reality; this-ability is focusing on your abilities and strengths irrespective of the reality.” A statement that shows his resolve to look at the brighter side of things and draw strength in the least expected places.

An attitude implanted by his mother, his biggest fan. It started with an insistence on him learning to walk with the aid of crutches, a walk of independence. Then to attending school and doing house chores like every other child.

Michael learnt, he adapted and he thrived. A brilliant chap, he did exceptionally well in secondary school and graduated as the best student. He found it hard to cope in university but graduated with a CGPA of 4.2 against all odds.

A Chemical Engineering graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), his journey as a teacher began during his NYSC year in 2016.

Faced with ridicule and embarrassment that triggered hot, painful tears, that did not deter him. His abilities were questioned even by students. Rather than throwing in the towel, Michael went on to produce great mathematics results consecutively for four years.

Impulses, Impacts and Imprints

A believer in education and inclusivity, “The Greatest Teacher” as he is fondly called founded Raising Star Africa Foundation (RSA) in April 2020, which is focused on promoting inclusive education in Africa.

The foundation goes to communities in search of people with ‘this-ability’ and renders educational and financial help.

At present, 5,000 children across 120 communities have been impacted. Fundraisers including sports competitions are part of RSA’s activities.

Most recently, Victor, a 22 year with cerebral palsy got aid from RSA. With a donation of one million, twenty-eight thousand, nine hundred and fifty naira Victor has been able to get a wheelchair to aid his movement with other things still in the bag.


18 years old Samuel, the only surviving son of his mother who is hearing impaired had been out of school since July 2021 after finishing elementary school, also received aid from his RSA and is now enrolled in an inclusive private secondary.

Skills acquisition is instilled in RSA’s programmes, including shoemaking, arts and crafts geared towards giving young people with disability and those with special needs a sense of worth, a sense of independence and a sense of belonging. These and more are stories of change that were birthed from one man’s vision.

Reward for passion

Michael on his path has leveled up from being a struggling teacher to championing great courses on global platforms. A reward for his passion.

In 2023 he was an Education Delegate speaker at One Young World as well as a Mandela Washington Fellow. In 2022 he was One Young World’s ambassador and he was the Royal African Award winner. In 2021 he featured in UNICEF Nigeria.  Many more awards and recognitions sit on his desk.

A symbol of hope that it is possible, a symbol of inspiration for all to see that there is ability in disability.

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