A group of children from Eastville Heights have been given a taste of old-school fun and games at an annual initiative to mark the start of spring.
Local organisation Purpose Driven People Community Projects launched the Kidz Time initiative in 2015. It was changed to the Nature Squad in March this year.
“The main aim of the organisation is to pinpoint the holistic and pertinent needs of the community and the focus of Kidz Time was mainly on bringing back old fun by playing games and children’s interactions in sports activities. On Wednesday 8 March, the name was changed to the Nature Squad because there was a need to show children of the community the importance of nature,” says Zaahirah Kemp of the organisation.
The initiative was started to combat social ills and teach children the importance of positive influences.
“Children in the community only know what they are exposed to every day [which is] gangsterism and drugs. Social media does not offer anything to occupy the free time of children like games or sports. Children don’t realise how important nature is to us and how we won’t be able to survive without it.
“By doing this programme, we want to inform children and keep them active and healthy at the same time, also pulling their focus away from the heartache and danger they see and face almost every day,” says Kemp.
The Nature Squad was closed during Ramadaan and exams and also due to winter, but it was revived on Saturday 9 September to host a special spring-themed event.
“The spring celebration was a welcoming for the children and an introduction to spring. We organised a day filled with fun game activities, such as dancing, racing and bag races,” says Kemp.
Around 200 children from the community attended, among whom were the 60 Nature Squad members.
Neighbours also got involved with refreshments and the control and handling of the event.
“Zubeida Kemp and her family were big supporters, offering to make huge pots of soup for the children and help hand out party packs. Rashieda Gallie also assisted in the park with the control of the event,” says Kemp.
The event was held in Botha Park and was a success despite a lack of support, says Kemp.
“The youth are being dragged deeper and deeper into gangsterism and drugs. By reaching out to them, we are hoping that we can decrease crime in our area and at least save some kids from the horrors of what we face every day,” says Kemp.
The organisation is planning regular activities for October and November and will focus on nature and educational interactions.
A hike in the Wolfgat Nature Reserve is planned for December.
The organisation is in the process of registering. Its board consists of Marshaline Lewin, founder and director, Nuraan Kemp, secretary, Rachel Reeves treasurer, Collin Lewis and Claude Jacobs, additional members, Marshay Lewin, Alexander May, Sydney Meyer, Garunisa Magite and Kristen Harris as marshal leaders and Zubeida Kemp, Sadia Salie, Meagan Williams, Shareefa and Rashieda Gallie as permanent volunteers.