Ikamva Labantu held a Health Training Week for the 74 township preschool principals currently enrolled in their two-year Early Childhood Development training programme.
The week involved internal and external presentations on health issues relevant to children aged 0-6, with an emphasis on prevention training and safety in classrooms. The week was run in collaboration with the University of the Western Cape, the Environmental Health Department and Childsafe, a child safety and accident prevention organisation based at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
Lizette Oliver, Registered Nurse and Head of Health Services at Ikamva Labantu, said: “The goals of the week were to give a fairly intensive health exposure to the principals over four days, ending off with a personal health screening opportunity.”
Childsafe, an NPO promoting optimal health and development of all children, engaged with the principals for the day of Wednesday 26 July on accident prevention and safety in classrooms.
According to Childsafe, injuries are the major cause of death in South African children between ages of five and 14 years, with thousands of children sustaining injury-related permanent disabilities.
The Director of Childsafe, Phumla Mtambeka, says the most common accidents in preschools are falls and recommended that preschools don’t use bunk beds. “Electrical cords should be kept away from the children’s reach and plugs should be covered with safety covers as children often put their fingers in them,” she says. She also advised preschool owners to have strict medical polices in place to administer medication to the children.
“We want to create a safe space because we lose a lot of children due to accidents that could have been prevented. We also want to create awareness so that children can be protected,” says Phumla.
Childsafe also provided participants with posters and manuals to keep for display and reference. These resources were kindly sponsored by Woolworths SA.
The Environmental Health Department of Khayelitsha worked together with principals to explore obstacles that preschools face in terms of environmental health. Principals were informed of their rights when representing their preschools in this regard. For example, if there is livestock being kept near their preschool, principals are able to request that the livestock be moved in the interests of the children.
On Thursday 27th July, the Department of Oral Hygiene from UWC presented to the principals on oral health; they also offered personal oral hygiene checks as part of the health screenings on the last day of the programme.
Other topics covered throughout the week included immunisations, deworming, developmental milestones and understanding the “Road to Health” card.
Connie Mase from Msobomvu Educare Centre in Khayelitsha says: “I can now identify children with worms and I’ve learnt how to read the Road to Health card.” She also has plans to teach the parents how to practice safety at home.
Ikamva Labantu’s Lizette underlined the value of these screenings for the preschool staff: “If we understand the importance of health to us and our own wellbeing, then we understand the importance for a child who is just starting out on their life journey.”