Cape Town - For 13 years, a non-profit organisation has been helping children from all walks of life to learn through playing.
Sisanda FunDaytion boosts the mental health of vulnerable children around the city and helps them to strengthen connections, learn and grow through recreation and play. They strive for a world in which all children can experience the joy of being children.
Last month the organisation visited St Joseph’s Children’s Hospital where they set up a carnival for children in the hospital.
There were various activities, such as jumping castles, cupcake icing stations and face painting. Participants even made their own flowerpots and planted cute little flowers to put alongside the beds.
Foundation director Nicky Seymour said they recognised the importance of being active and doing something fun with others which has an impact on one’s mental health.
“Play for young children turns into leisure and recreation choices as we get older. We all need these activities to strengthen ourselves, our bodies, our minds and spirits and to keep our intrinsic drive for life,” said Seymour.
The organisation hosts the fun days each month allowing children to connect through play while getting the opportunity to explore new spaces, learn new things and meet new people.
“These children stay in the hospital for six months, with most up to a year or longer. Having something different such as a Sisanda carnival helps the children but also the staff to regulate all the tough feelings and reinvigorate themselves for their tough and often traumatic journeys,” she said.
The organisation is working with communities around Cape Town. This month they will be taking a group of children between 8 and 10 years old from Gugulethu and Thambo Village to Boschendal Farm in Franschhoek.
The location provides a chance for the 40 children and 15 volunteers to learn about each other in this sensory-enriched environment with fresh air, stimulating smells, sights and the chance to touch and feel connected with nature.
“We choose outdoor locations and stimulating activities as much as possible to counter for a small moment the enormous, persistent challenges in the lives of these children and their communities which affects their mental health,” added Seymour.
Nkule, one of the Fun Day co-ordinators, said an unreasonable number of children are living with mental health issues and this is not known by the small communities, nor is the impact on the child’s life fully understood.
“It is very important that we all acknowledge our role as we interact with children. It’s time to start talking about children’s mental health and having interaction not only with the child, but educating the parents too,” she said.
The organisation also runs a couple of other programmes.
Sisanda FunDaytion has also taken part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Their reason they entered was to have fun and raise at least R60 000 to boost funding in the coming months.