Discussing taboos

2019-03-26 06:01
Some learners who attended the programme.

Some learners who attended the programme.

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The LifeMatters Foundation (LMF) had a Teenage Awareness Programme at Zwaanswyk Primary School in Retreat last Wednesday.

The programme is between one to three days depending on the need of the school and it is aimed at preteens, adolescents and their parents.

The foundation is an educational non-profit organisation providing both academic and psycho-social support to predominantly underprivileged primary school learners in the Southern Suburbs.

It was established in 2002 by Meadowridge Baptist Church (now Connect Church) to serve the youth of the greater Constantiaberg area and they have been spreading their wings. Now working with schools in Retreat, Steenberg, Westlake and Vrygrond their holistic intervention includes two separate portfolios which are The LifeSkills Portfolio and The Academic Portfolio. The objective of both portfolios is to equip children with the skills they need to stay in school.

Part of their life skills programmes is teenage awareness. This programme is a series of short-term workshops addressing a variety of issues facing pre-teen and teenage learners. They incorporate the Life Orientation syllabus into their workshops, this programme both equips learners with tools and skills for life and prepares them for Life Orientation testing.

Kayla-Tess Pattenden, programme facilitator, says this programme is incredibly important. “Life skills education in our country is not effectively provided in schools leaving kids with many questions without a point of reference or safe space to have them addressed. Also, prevention is better than cure. Research suggests that in the absence of life skills education, the rate of sexual activity, teen pregnancy, substance use and abuse and other teen experimentation increases drastically,” she says.

The programme addresses topics such as identity, friendship, family relationships, sex education, pornography awareness and prevention, gangsterism, trauma debriefing, social networking, social responsibility, substance use and abuse, self-defence, leadership training, sexual identity, study skills, strengths assessments and any other topic that the school asks for.

“Much of what we address is taboo. We normalise the need to talk about, question and debate topics which are frowned upon or too awkward to talk about elsewhere. In so doing we have found that kids use the information to make wise decisions. Furthermore, the opportunity to speak freely also allows learners to admit their mistakes and request additional help through our counselling department. The comfort authenticity and acceptance of the space allows kids to admit to being the victim in pornography addiction, gang initiation and sexual abuse,” she says.

Some of the schools that have been part of this programme, which has been running for five years, include Sweet Valley Primary, Ferndale Primary, Westcott Primary, Steenberg Primary among others.

The LifeMatters Foundation is the beneficiary of the People’s Post Spec-Savers Perfectly Posh High Tea. Read more on page 2

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