The Worcester Young Child Forum is gathering momentum and is attended by many varied stakeholders working with or for young children and their families. It is a great opportunity for provincial, district and local government to explain government policies, programmes and services for young children and to hear from people on the ground about the challenges they face.
1. Learning through Play
With the re-opening of ECD centres and the new COVID-19 rules and regulations, practitioners communicated the need to be better equipped in terms of adapted practices and when engaging with children. The Do More Foundation organized two workshops (in Worcester and Zwelethemba respectively) facilitated by Renee Lighton, a renowned educational consultant and life coach to motivate practitioners and introduce innovative and positive ways of presenting new ECD centre rules and activities in line with the three W’s (Wear your mask, Wash / Sanitize your hands and Watch your distance).
Considering the lack of regular engagement between practitioners during lockdown, they were tremendously happy to be able to engage on an interpersonal level at workshops again and they were encouraged by the facilitator to support one another when feeling “tired and uninspired”. The workshops were interactive, fun and practical and practitioners stepped out of the workshops feeling encouraged and motivated to tackle the “new normal” in their ECD centres. Some feedback from principals as follows:
“This workshop has taught me to listen to others’ ideas and bank them. It was fun to learn through play. Always think like a queen and wear your crown” – Asanda Sibeko, Siphumelele Educare Centre.
“What I like about our facilitator is that she taught us not everything requires money but we can create with our own minds and our own hands!” – Nozi, Zwelethemba ECD centre
“This workshop made me aware of how to deal with emotion. It also taught me how to be a good listener and to deal with worries. We were also shown how to teach with recycle products like lids, caps, and so on.” – Brenda Siko, Sinethemba Centre
2. Child Health and Nutrition
With general concerns expressed by practitioners about child hunger and malnutrition, a workshop was arranged to speak to this issue. The workshop that took place in November 2020, was facilitated by Adriane Petersen, a seasoned dietician and facilitator from Department of Health and was attended by 38 participants. The facilitator imparted insights on the various illnesses that affect children especially during the summer period, and conditions that were exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Some of the topics that were probed substantially were issues of breastfeeding and child immunization. ECD practitioners appreciated the refresher workshop on the content of the “Road to Health Booklet” and copies of “How to raise a healthy child” as well as information of clinics in the vicinity of the ECD centres were shared at the session. Practitioners were excited to share information with parents especially since it was close to the December holiday period. Their information sessions with parents would serve as reminders that parents have to remain vigilant in monitoring their children’s health and well-being especially due to the fact that fewer children were taken for their scheduled immunization sessions to clinics as a result of the lockdown period.
Practitioners indicated that they felt more empowered to screen children and give advice to parents and they also found the session useful in addressing their own uncertainties around child health issues which they experience as parents.