Lifeskills help girls take the safe line

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

After a week-long lifeskillls programme, 40 girls from Protea Primary School in Bonteheuwel, presented their new skills in a fun way to the rest of the school.

The programme was hosted by Safeline Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Centre, which is based in Thornton Road, Athlone.

Some of the topics covered included peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, decision-making and teamwork.

The programme was aimed at girls in Grades 5, 6 and 7.

On Friday March 18, the girls hosted a “fashion show”, where they donned outfits made from recycled goods.

Their message to their peers, was that there is beauty even in what others might consider “rubbish”.

Safeline’s social work supervisor, Blanche Olivier said the organisation has done a “risky behaviour” programme with the pupils of Protea Primary before, and because of their interaction then, it was decided to do the lifeskills programme. She added that a few of their clients are pupils at this school.

“There is a great need at the school for programmes like this. We negotiated with the school to do the lifeskills programme after we hosted the risky behaviour programme. It’s good that we now have a partnership with the school, so that we can address other needs at the school,” Ms Olivier said.

When asked why only girls were chosen for the lifeskills programme, Ms Olivier said: “We planned to have a camp, that’s why we only worked with the girls. However, due to a lack of funding, we are not able to have it. We will have another programme and will definitely include the boys when we come back.”

Principal Mabel Valentine said programmes like this are desperately needed at her school.

“Some of our children come from very challenging backgrounds. As a result of the difficulties the children face, some of them have anger problems. This ultimately affects their schoolwork, and that’s why they struggle academically. They can’t perform as they should, because the social problems get them down. Sometimes, it’s the parents, relatives or friends of relatives that’s the problem,” Ms Valentine said.

She added that partnerships with NGOs are vital.

“We need more social workers. I feel every school needs to have its own social worker, but the reality is that one social worker is assigned to a lot of schools. The same goes for psychologists. Because of this, the lack of counselling is the most concerning part for me. As a teacher, one feels that your hands are tied. That’s why we need the assistance of NGOs.”