Having heard of WhizzKids United for some time it was now time to see it for real, “Tim” said Marcus “I’d like you to work with the Game Changers.”
Well time came to visit the academy for the first time, after the hour journey we have all got to know and love Marcus gave me a swift look round before moving on to the blue container which was going to be a major part of my life for the next few months. My first encounter with the Game Changers and Dennis was a quiet one, All ten of them came out of the container they told me a bit about themselves and their names, the names of course went in one ear and out the other, but I would get to know them and love each of the Game Changers over time.
I spent the next few weeks sitting in the container with the Game Changers and Dennis while they planned an event, “women’s day” and probably the first time I to chance to interact with the Game Changers , I remember been taken round Edendale hospital collecting donations to finance the event. It was also the time I was told that they were not allowed to speak Zulu, and that Dennis was a ghost who could appear round any corner and check to see if they were or were not.
The event came on a Saturday and I drove up with Marcus, well talk about been thrown n at the deep end, “ so we need someone to introduce the academy and open the event” ( something I have now made sure they have planned in the their next events ! ) it was good to see them all at work, and also know how far they have come since then. Oh I must talk about been introduced to the amazing icebreaker about the banana. Starting off with the line “peel banana – peel, peel banana” and finishing with the line “out banana – out, out banana” all the parts of the digestion of said banana are described in between including actions showing which stage we had got to.
It was good to get to know the gamechangers over the next few weeks, there different characteristics, there likes and dislikes. I began starting to take over more and more of the classes, but at this stage it was hard to see where we were going with the programme, there was a curriculum which made life a bit easier, but it seemed no way of marking their progress, to see what their strengths and weaknesses were.
So the task was set to write worksheets for maths and English, weekly tests, and all kind of things that in some cases I hadn’t done at all, and if I had it had been many years since I had. It took a lot of trawling through google teaching pages to remind me of how to do things. It was useful to find a book that we could all have a copy of, this helped greatly with comprehension and with reading out loud. It was strange to me how they could speak words that when seen on paper they struggled with. It also helped with getting them to question a teacher, which seemed to be something they were not used to. So by getting them to ask about words and there meanings the Game Changers got used to speaking out in lessons.
The next event to come along was the Gogos (Zulu grandmother) tea party, the organisation for this seemed to of improved from the last event, though there was a problem on how people were invited, resulting in Hans going to the clinic next door and inviting Gogos from there.
It turned out to be quite a fun day, the Gogos as sprightly as ever entered into the spirit of all the games, loving the football game, especially the penalty shootout at the end laughing and cheering every goal and save.
Next up was the school holidays and the on the ball tournament. The Game Changers came in everyday to cook and do icebreakers, and probably the time when I felt I was becoming a part of the group, and I was referred to as a Game Changer. Though this did involve dancing with Mlilo in the middle of a large circle of laughing onlookers.
So how long could I go on with this blog? Well truth is for many pages, other events, tests, worksheets, laughter, and tears. Oh and garden building!!
The academy had been donated a lot of vegetable plants in small boxes the plan was to build gardens to plant them in. After a donation was given we ordered wood, nails and soil to make large boxes to plant the young plants. The whole task was taken on enthusiastically, sawing, hammering, and planting, seemed like everyone wanted to join in, especially the planting. It’s good to see a few months later that the first pick of spinach has taken place, there are tomatoes ripening, and another new box has been made and planted with seeds.
Then there was the trip to the Mandela capture site, a day out for us all! Starting early…ish, we drove to the capture site; apparently I went the wrong way, but hey! We got there. Seeing them see the sculpture for the first time was an experience, and photographs were taken from every angle. Moving on from there to the Howick falls we had our only disappointment, we were told that we could not braai near the falls, but a new place was suggested Karkloof falls, unfortunately the directions were not the best, but after a bit of a detour we arrived. A braai site was invaded and the afternoon was spent with music, laughter, and good food cooked by Dennis. To see the actual falls you had to climb through a fence and down a path, it’s there I realised perhaps flip flops were not the best footwear! But the view of the falls was worth it, the water falling into a large wooded gorge.
So now I am reaching the end of my time here at WhizzKids, and it’s with a great deal of sadness. It’s perhaps hard to describe all my feelings, the people I have met here I now regard as good friends, Dennis and the Game Changers themselves I will miss so much. But perhaps this quote sums it up.
"Don`t cry because you are leaving, smile because you were there."