Improving children’s lives through education

2019-03-13 06:01
photo: suppliedA toy librarian spotted playing with children.

photo: suppliedA toy librarian spotted playing with children.

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WORKING with children is a huge responsibility, and one should always treat it as such. Not only do you need proper training and guidance, but it also requires you to have compassion and enthusiasm and to fight for children’s rights and to protect them from harm.

One organisation that has taken on this challenge with both hands is Letcee.

This organisation is well known to the people of Greytown, and they have a wide base of supporters from the surrounding areas.

Letcee is a non-profit organisation working in the early childhood development (ECD) field. They have been running for the past 26 years, providing early learning opportunities to the district’s most vulnerable children. They also offer accredited ECD training for women from rural areas.

Having implemented projects in rural communities over several years, Letcee has learnt that the approach to ECD must be developmental rather than welfare-orientated.

The organisation believes that ECD cannot exist on its own, but must be linked to the wider life of the children in their families and communities.

Projects must include aspects such as nutrition and family support if they are to have any real, rather than token, partnership with the community.

Letcee recently launched a brand-new project, called the Play-ABLE Pickup, a new mobile Toy Library specifically for children with disabilities.

This double cab functions just like Letcee’s other ten toy libraries, offering toy lending services, playgroups and caregiver training.

Toy librarian Sbu Mhlanga has received specific training on special needs and he actively works towards inclusion in all aspects of life.

To break down the stigma surrounding children with disabilities, Mhlanga not only runs early learning playgroups specifically for children with disabilities, but he also takes them to other toy libraries.

There the children and their caregivers can interact with other children without disabilities and their parents.

Letcee reports that they have seen improved interaction between children with disabilities and the rest of the community. They noticed that, by having the children play together, it breaks down walls of discrimination and stigma and build bridges towards friendship and inclusion.

Mhlanga also conducts caregiver and sibling discussions where he educates parents, caregivers and children on the causes and aspects of their family member’s disability and gives them the opportunity to ask questions.

Occupational therapist Annika Savage said the organisation believes education can break the stigma surrounding children with disabilities.

Savage said the organisation is committed to continue providing quality education programmes to all children, including those living with disabilities.

Savage said the Play-ABLE Pickup project was rolled out in the Matimatolo and Mbuba areas late last year and Letcee is excited to already see changes taking place in these communities.

“We want to be inclusive in all our work, continually fighting against stigma and exclusion.

“We are so proud to have this new toy library, which provides learning resources to the children and community,” Savage said.

The NPO also offers parent training aimed at improving the parents’ knowledge and skills n play-based learning at home.

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