My first impressions of WhizzKids United was that it was heaving to do with kids! All over everywhere, the football pitch, the walk ways , the rooms, and the Health Academy.
We had come to look around the place to see if we felt that we could offer anything to this NGO who rely on volunteers to assist in the work that needs to be done.
As I am a RGN (registered general nurse) from the UK, currently working as a Sr Practice Nurse in a GP surgery, I was particularly interested in the work that was carried out in the Health Academy. The whole service provided is aimed at kids aged from 11-20, which accounted for the vast numbers of kids in the grounds. After introductions I have been allowed to wander through looking at what I could offer to these already amazing services.
As I said because I am a nurse my inclination was towards the medical side, but my registration doesn’t stand here in South Africa so was frustrated at not being able to use any of my clinical skills. This is my challenge then to find my “slot.”
So after “the wander” I sit in the waiting room with the kids that are obviously just waiting for their turn to see the Doctor, Nurse or Councellor. Some of them were chatting but the rest were just staring blankly ahead of them just waiting.
This is a drop in facility so there is an expectation to wait, but waiting is boring. I always take a book or my knitting to the hospital if I had to wait. After conducting a survey with the assistance of the lead councellor, Nobuhle, the over whelming answer from the kids was that they would appreciate Maths and English support. So there was the challenge to give the kids something interesting to do while waiting. So the plan was made to design puzzles, work sheets and activities that tested Maths and English with a view to making them fun and also educational. And to include relevant topics for the comprehension, relating to STI/HIV .
Football is used as the tool to teach life skills so a few football related word searches were added. To encourage completion of the activities and to gain top marks, sweets were offered as a reward. Kid will do anything to get a sweet, as will the adult staff it seems who were just as keen to complete the sheets!!
With the assistance of Sanele, a volunteer who will continue this idea when I have returned to the UK, we have given the kids “something to do” and they do seem to have fun. Making use of the time that they have to wait, making it profitable as they are missing school to attend the academy.
An extension to this project was to contact “Mind set” who have offered to donate educational DVDs to play on the solar TV that was donated during the 2010 World Cup, when these arrive this will provide even more educational material.
This project has also had extended use into the school shuttle service and I hope will continue long after we have returned to England.
Being part of WhizzKids United, and being on the Game Changer programme, has taught me how to behave in a working environment. I have developed critical skills in communication and learned how to take on leadership responsibilities. It has been such a great experience, waking up every day, knowing that I will learn new things and meet different people that will change my life for the better.
Being a Game Changer has motivated me to wake up morning. Also, partaking in the ladies football team has made my dream a reality because I am passionate about football, and learning and having fun at the same time has made it easier for me to understand the challenges related to HIV/Aids and other social issues. Talking to youth about social issues, and relate these issues to various games, make it easier for youth to talk to me while they are having fun.
During the course of the Game Changer programme, I have been given different opportunities to showcase my skills in a working environment. For example, I got a one month internship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics, where I assisted professors with various administrative tasks.
Later, I applied for the Laureus Youth Empowerment though Sport programme (YES). Getting accepted to take part in the programme has been an honour and I hope it will be the beginning of a successful career in youth empowerment through sport. I look forward to meeting youth from around Africa who will be participating on the programme, sharing ideas and learning from each other.
Special thanks to Oxfam for granting me the funds to make this dream become a reality. I am looking forward to learn as much as possible and gain experience in the YES programme so that I, in return, can implement what I have learned.