We started 2020 with 1,474 pre-adolescent youth on our Life Skills Programme
We have had to be very adaptable as a team. The DOE stipulated that no external partnerships/role players were permitted at any schools. We have however been able to continue working with most of our learners and our role, certainly at the beginning of the lockdown, was largely supportive.
When schools reopened, the youth workers performed a supportive role in educating learners on safety protocols and assisted the schools with preparations before learners returned to school. Once schools reopened, the teams did the sanitising process for school learners and managed the entry and exit process to and from school. Early mornings were spent screening learners and liaising with parents leaving teachers free to concentrate on the task of helping learners catch up academic time lost.
Youth Workers then spent time in classrooms, helping where teachers were absent and were also permitted to teach the life skills curriculum with key grades.
Currently we are teaching life skills to Grades 6 and 7 at Zwakele and Grades 4 and 6 at Ekuthuleni Primary school. We are most grateful for our long standing relationship of trust with our schools who value us as partners in their schools
Activities that kept us engaged with one another and our beneficiaries during hard Lockdown Level 5
- Weekly Zoom Team Connect Sessions – the team were supported emotionally to enable them to brainstorm new and innovative ways of reaching our beneficiaries so that life skills lesson content could be shared.
- We worked strategically at developing Safety and Education Protocol Presentations to help learners and our partner schools navigate their return to schools. Our Youth Workers developed visually appealing Powerpoint presentations to educate learners about the virus and how to stay safe. These were sent out via WhatsApp videos and were reinforced when learners returned to school. The team also experimented making short videos highlighting important lessons from our curriculum. These were sent out to some learners whose parents’ details we already had access to.
- Weekly telephonic contact was initiated by the Programme Team Leader with the school principals
- The team were instrumental in planning and facilitating the distribution of 1,300 Relief Aid Food Hampers to the most vulnerable beneficiaries within schools partnerships.
- We continued upgrading the manual curriculum into digital presentation in classrooms using data projectors.
- Once we moved to Lockdown Level 4, the Life Skills team pivoted to assist with general Domino Disaster Relief Operations as many hands and feet were needed with the unpacking and repacking efforts
- They have also assisted with the Data Capture of Beneficiary Lists for Research and Evaluation
Where are we now 6 months down the line?
We are back in our schools, screening learners, liaising with parents on behalf of the schools and helping where teachers are absent. We are also facilitating Life Skills lessons once again but not able to teach all the grades we taught at the beginning of the year, however we are most grateful to have the opportunity to reach some of our beneficiaries.
What was challenging?
Data coverage and fast internet connection in the township areas is not ideal. Trying to have online Zoom Meetings with the team was challenging and at times a very frustrating experience. The team was adaptable and should be commended for their willingness to engage and innovate. One of our greatest challenges we realised was that we relied too much on the school as our contact point with the learners’ parents/caregivers. With schools closed at such short notice, our ability to stay connected to our learners was limited. We have highlighted this as an area of importance that we need to improve in and are developing tools to have more direct contact opportunities with our beneficiaries and their families.
Opportunities to grow…
What lockdown taught us is that team work is vital for efficiency and efficacy. Within our organisation new opportunities have presented themselves to work more co-operatively between programmes and this became most evident in the partnership between Nutrition and Life Skills. Before a child can process any information, he/she has to have energy to pay attention through brain food. Our Nutrition Programme supplies additional protein rich sandwiches to vulnerable children at school, to supplement the government feeding scheme. What the team have observed is that sometimes the most hungry/vulnerable children are not always receiving a sandwich because of the way they are being distributed. To address this, we are in the process of analysing how life skills could assist with developing tools to help teachers to identify the most vulnerable of children in need. We are also exploring how the Youth Workers could help with distributing sandwiches to the orphaned and vulnerable learners.
Regards School Nutrition – we want to build capacity not own the process so our intention is not to replace the role of the OVC teacher, rather to co-labour in support of the system already in place and see ourselves as adding value to our schools ensuring that we strengthen an active and inspiring learning environment for our beneficiaries.
Chad le Clos donates masks in support of youth …
Leigh-Anne Stevens heads up this team too
Want to know more about our Life Skills Programme
Want to impact the youth today for their leadership skills tomorrow?
There is such untapped potential in the young people in our country and we would love to see all of them thrive and shine. Is your personal or business conviction to mentor, model and motivate the youth to achieve all they are designed to be? Then please will you connect with our Donor Relations Team Karen Brokensha or Tarin Stevenson and possibly even host a Think Tank Session with Leigh-Ann and our Youth Team #onebodymanyparts