Cape Town – With many of the province’s residents living in “war zones”, non-profit organisation Learning In Reach, which focuses on education, is trying to help young children to cope with trauma.
The organisation has called for volunteers to assist it in the coming weeks, including on Mandela Day on July 18, to create “calming corners” for preschool children at schools in
Lavender Hill, where children can interact in a peaceful manner.
Project director Leanne Reid said according to the UN and other humanitarian institutions, “war is defined as an act of conflict that has claimed more than 1 000 lives”.
“In the Western Cape, 1 875 people were murdered in the past six months alone. This means that many of our most vulnerable residents in the province are living in a war zone,” Reid said.
She said the rolling out of calming corners was vital for children. “It’s critical for us that children are connected to adults who can support them, especially in areas where there is so much conflict. We want to have tools available to assist them.”
She said the corners would benefit children aged between 3 and 6, but children younger than that were enrolled at some early childhood development centres at schools.
Chery Abrahams, a Lavender Hill resident and a project manager for Learning In Reach, said the organisation had trained teachers to help children to cope with trauma.
“It is wonderful for everyone who has done the trauma course; they feel uplifted,” Abrahams said.
Teachers normally sent children to the “naughty corner” when they misbehaved, but those who completed the course understood what triggered negative behaviour and could deal with children in a more positive way.
“I think it (calming corners) will make a huge difference. Teachers and learners come from unpeaceful spaces in the morning. For instance, if a child was abused the previous night and the perpetrator had a blue shirt on, and when they come to class and the teacher has a blue top on, the teacher won’t know what is triggering them.