Counselors with Disabilities
Students with Disabilities

The Challenge

Youth with Disabilities are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression, especially in East Africa where stigmatization, marginalization and discrimination is still widespread. The lack of essential psychosocial support creates additional barriers that keep Persons with Disabilities from being able to obtain and maintain meaningful employment.   

Next Step Foundation’s Upili Program addresses this pervasive mental health challenge by providing Counselors with Disabilities to support secondary school Students with Disabilities, their families and communities. By meeting the psychosocial needs of these students and training teachers, staff and peers to serve as “psychological first responders,” the Upili Program instills self-confidence, improves academic performance and provides the tools to successfully navigate future discrimination so they can achieve economic independence. 

Theory of Change

Group Counseling

Trained Kenyan counselors empowering Students with Disabilities to process past and current traumas

Teacher Training

Educating teachers/staff to serve as Psychological First Responders in support of group therapy sessions

Peer Counselors

Training select group of students to provide peer support, active/reflective listening and mentoring

Caregiver Awareness

Coaching and educating caregivers around disability acceptance and support at home

Support Our Work

Help support the important work the Upili Program is doing
to support the mental health of Students with Disabilities.

Upili Impact

Group Counseling

Using participant’s feedback gathered across time using standard depression and anxiety inventories will provide quantitative evidence of students improved mental health

Behavioral Improvement

Longitudinal data collected from school regarding improved classroom/social behavior with peers will demonstrate Upili’s role in supporting participant’s psychosocial path

Academic Improvement

Tracking participant’s grades and overall academic performance will indicate Upili’s role in advancing participant’s educational path

Number of Recipients

Tracking number of participants receiving our interventions will quantify Upili’s reach and help measure the expansion of our impact over time

Why Upili

We have great students, but they bring their frustration from home situations to school, and this impedes academic performance. This anger becomes a cycle and teachers, administration, and students feel frustrated.  Upili would help. 
Upili instilling confidence is what our students need. That and learning to self-advocate both here and out in the world when they leave here. 

Sylvia Sintamei
Principal Kasarani Treeside Secondary School for the Deaf
Our students need Upili. I’m thinking of one in particular who has childhood trauma which shows as poor behavior and anger. He gets better at school, but each time he goes back to his village he’s re-traumatized and returns angry again.” 

Lilian Muteithia
Deputy Principal, SA Joytown Secondary School 
For the hearing-impaired counseling is paramount and has been consistently neglected. Stigma and isolation start at home and emerge as anger at school. We need Upili and counselors who know Kenyan Sign Language. It’s crucial.” 

George Wairobi
Deputy Principal, Kambui Secondary School for the Deaf 

Our Team


Head of Storytelling


Fundraising Support Officer


Masters in Clinical Psychology

Senior Counsellor

Contact Us

Keep in Touch with Us

+254 792 791 586 / +254 729 303 826