People's Post

Initiative in the heart of Mitchell's Plain creates ‘memorable’ break

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Children had the opportunity to try their hands at cooking at the Masterchef event as part of the fun activities before they went back to school.
Children had the opportunity to try their hands at cooking at the Masterchef event as part of the fun activities before they went back to school.

When everyone was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 it was difficult to reintroduce recreation into the community of Beaconvale.

This situation changed when Solomon Philander, Ward 116 councillor, and his partners hosted a two weeks programme for 850 children at different venues.

“The motivation for me to reintroduce recreation back into the community was to identify like-minded organisations to collaborate and come up with the holiday programme. We provided a day programme with a meal and it went well. Between December and just before the schools reopened I collaborated with Soraya Rigby, Ward 116 councillor, Lee Peters, Common Treats, Safeline Child Abuse Centre, Ward 116 sports sector and Beaconvale Community Frail Care to plan and implement the holiday programme for two weeks,” says Philander.

The programme ran over two weeks – between Monday 19 to Friday 23 December and Monday 9 to Friday 13 January at three different sites: Beacon Valley Community Centre, Morgenster and The Farm Recreation Centre. During this time 45 volunteers were recruited and screened. They received a stipend for the ten days. In addition to the volunteers, more than 35 persons assisted with the programme. A group of matric 2022 learners valued the experience.

“The theme for week one was What about me?

Beacon Valley had months of gang-related shootings and murders that left the community reeling. Children and families are most affected and we tend to forget that children’s experiences of crime have a life-long effect on them. We chose the topic What about me to remind children that they too have a space in our community.

“We ended the week with a carnival where children received tickets to play fun activities. At the end of the activities they could exchange the ticket for prizes,” he says.

In week two, the theme was New Beginnings to coincide with going back to school.

After a long school holiday, it was important for the team to prepare the children for school including making their final week of holidays memorable.

“We had activities of Masterchef and a talent show to showcase different activities and possibilities in Ward 116 and The Farm. We had much fun and the children enjoyed every moment of it.

“Initially we planned the holiday programme for 850 children but reduced it in the second week to 750 children. Rigby and Peters took charge at The Farm.

“Recreation Centre, Taswell and Natalie Goliath at Morgenster Recreation Centre and Mariam Mohamad in Beacon Valley Community Centre,” Philander says.

What stood out about the programme was how proud the organisers were of the volunteers who gave their time to create a safe space for the children during the two weeks.

Most of the children attending the holiday programme are children depending on the meals at their school.

For the duration of the programme, the children received porridge in the morning and a meal in the afternoon.

“The other interesting factor was the eagerness of the children between the ages of 14 to 18 years to participate in the programme and the activities. Another sad factor I observed was how many children attended the programme with broken shoes and clothing. We were able to network with families to provide these items to give children dignity. We observed that parents felt safe to have their children at the community centres,” he says.

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