Bus drives sparkle

2016-02-16 06:00
Mobile wellness units of the Western Cape government visited Heideveld Primary School last week.

Mobile wellness units of the Western Cape government visited Heideveld Primary School last week.

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Smiles are brighter at Heideveld Primary School this week following a visit by the Western Cape government’s mobile wellness units last week.

The project, a collaborative effort between the provincial departments of education and health and the Health Foundation and Liberty Medical Scheme, ensures that Grades R, 1 and 4 pupils in no-fee schools who do not have access to medical aid get access to specialised medical services for free.

Debbie Schäfer, provincial Minister of Education, says her department’s partnership with the other stakeholders is vital to ensure the success of the operation. “The event that we attended today with the departments of education and health together, and also involving private partners, is really the way we need to go and they way we want to go in the Western Cape.”

She says the overriding reason for having this initiative roll out to more schools is to ensure that pupils have a more enriched educational experience. “If there are problems that can be picked up by the health professionals that are not picked up early, it will have a severe impact on their education. If there is a child sitting in a class with a sore tooth, for example, or not able to read because he needs glasses, then obviously he cannot maximise his learning opportunities.”

Schäfer confirms there are five mobile units in operation – two in Cape Town – that are targeting poor schools and communities.

The rollout of the wellness unit had Ros­dien Desai, Heideveld Primary School’s principal, smiling from ear to ear. “Children actually enjoy going to it. They come out there with a smile on their faces because they have received medical care or basic wellness and also an awareness of looking after their bodies.”

He says the implementation of the initiative will only have a positive influence on education and also a significant impact on the greater community. “Lots of parents from other schools are asking how they can access a facility like the one we have here.”

The units will continue making their way across the city to schools that fit the requirements. They tend to stop over at a school for between two and four days.

Collette Adams-Watson, project manager at Liberty, says the buses usually visit every school at least once a year. She confirms plans to expand the fleet by the end of next year. “If private funding can be secured we’re looking at it acquiring eight more buses.”

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