The DO MORE FOUNDATION hosts between 60 and 80 participants monthly at the young child forums with representatives from the Grapevine forum (located in Worcester) and Masiphathisane forum (located in Zwelethemba) along with other ECD stakeholders operating in the BVM area.
The Young Child Forums are attended by a variety of stakeholders working with or for young children and their families. This is a great opportunity for provincial, district, and local governments to explain government policies, programs, and services for young children and hear from people on the ground about the challenges they face.
Renee Lighton: Self care and wellbeing during the pandemic
The first post-lockdown Child Forum focused on ECD practitioner wellbeing and was facilitated by Renee Lighton. 85 participants attended the session including the Grapevine and Masiphatisane ECD forums, Department of Social Development, Department of Health, Smart Start, Breede Valley Municipality and the Grow Great’s Flourish programme.
The primary aim of the workshop was to raise awareness about wellness and the importance of investing in one’s mental health as an ECD practitioner. This workshop was a much needed resource for ECD practitioners who are facing various challenges due to COVID 19 restrictions that are impacting their ECD programmes and personal lives. Participants were able to look at their routines and decide what can be added/removed to add more wellness into their daily routines. In addition to the wellness workshop held by Rene, new DSD Cape Winelands support staff members were introduced to participants in order to form ongoing working relationships with them.
We received great feedback from the attendees (see below) and continue to promote self-care for practitioners to continue their vital work with young children in Worcester.
The Learning Initiative: Behavioral changes in children during the pandemic
Another successful Young Child Forum session took place in May 2021, this time hosted by Ingrid Ahlert of The Learning Initiative. The session focused on behavior change in children resulting from the pandemic and provided attendees with practical tools to manage changes brought on by feelings of sadness, anxiety, violence, loneliness, and boredom caused by COVID 19 limitations.
The attendees were provided with various strategies and tools on how to help children through these feelings. For example, where children act out of fear, strategies include giving children time to settle in and reconnect with their friends; allowing children to help set rules; or changing the way one speaks to the child. These strategies were practiced through role playing and modelling which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
In addition, practitioners received a support booklet containing various activities such as stress management, journaling and breathing exercises, sudoku, word search, and physical exercise plans.
The second component of the session was facilitated by GrowGreat over a Webinar in which the GrowGreat Campaign team presented its nutrition survey on stunting in Worcester. In addition, the survey was presented to Community Health Care Workers in order for them to gain a better understanding of current challenges and successes arising from the latest study.
The feedback from the workshop was phenomenal and the practitioners greatly appreciated the booklet they received as a handout.