Using books to reach out to the youth

The Cape Town Museum of Childhood, together with the Centre for Early Childhood Development, launched South African Library Week at Athlone library with a pop-up exhibition and a short story writing competition last Tuesday. Outreach worker at the Cape Town Museum of Childhood, Chanel Fredericks, presented the workshop.

With more children and youth joining gangs on the Cape Flats, the Athlone library hopes that library week will inspire children to read more to occupy them and escape from social ills.

The Cape Town Museum of Childhood, together with the Centre for Early Childhood Development, celebrated South African Library Week at Athlone library with a pop-up exhibition and a short story writing competition which started on Tuesday March 19 and will run until Thursday March 29.

Library Week also allowed people to return outstanding books for free from Tuesday March 19 to Saturday March 24.

The objectives of this programme are to encourage people to visit libraries and recognise it as vital resources within communities for children, youth and adults; and encourage a culture of story writing by giving children and youth a platform to express their creative abilities.

At the pop-up exhibition are blank books and stationery which encourage the children and youth to write their own stories and allow their creative juices to flow. This will be collected by the Cape Town Museum of Childhood.

The purpose of this, according to outreach worker at the Cape Town Museum of Childhood, Chanel Fredericks, is to inform people that the museum exists, create a platform for story writing, and to remind the community that a vital resource such as a library is a safe space where children can complete their homework, especially those who face many social ills and don’t have a safe and quiet place to focus on their academics.

“The library and this competition is a perfect space for children who love reading and there is a vast amount of books available to them,” said Ms Fredericks.

According to librarian Wesley Wyngaard, reading helps one to escape everyday challenges into a different world while being in the safe space of a library which many children and youth on the Cape Flats are not exposed to.

“Reading betters their vocabulary, helps them to write better and reading fiction helps them to escape your everyday challenges into an unknown world because sometimes it gets too much for them,” said Mr Wyngaard.

He said that joining the library will give children, youth, and adults something to occupy their time with so that they do not fall into the cycle of crime and gangsterism due to boredom.

The Athlone library also has various entertainment for children and youth such as computer games, learning how to play chess, browsing the internet, and every Saturday they host life skills programmes for children.

Once every three months they also host a women’s workshop where they address challenges such as parenting, health, stress, and careers. Basic computer literacy classes are also offered four times a month.

The annual reading competition will take place on Wednesday April 18 where one Grade 7 pupil from 10 different schools in the area will take part. In the competition they are given a passage to read, a comprehension, and spelling test.

The library’s boardroom is also available for community meetings and gatherings.

For more information, contact the Athlone library on 021 696 6250.