Developing skills with the Safe Parks Project
Themba Interactive recently launched the Safe Parks Project, a four-year initiative which aims to build a layered support system between Child Care Advocates (CCA) aged 35 and older, peer educators (between 18 and 30) who live around the delegated safe parks and older Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the Ekurhuleni region and various areas in Mpumalanga.
For the past two years, Themba Interactive has worked at the Inxiweni Primary School, in Thembisa, during weekends and school holidays, training CCAs in basic applied drama and mentoring skills in order to equip them with ways to mentor peer educators who run applied drama sessions with OVCs.
A safe park can be defined as any building or premises which is used and maintained for the exclusive use, protection and, temporary or partial, care of youth between six and 21 years old.
Applied drama and peer educator training also takes place with the peer educators who will run applied drama based workshops with OVCs. The main purpose of the training sessions is to provide care and support, build the CCAs and peer educators' confidence and provide them with creative tools order to deal with their own challenges as care workers.
By offering them skills and support, Themba hopes the OVCs will be better equipped to deal with their challenges in a safe and creative space. The challenges and topics include HIV/Aids, peer pressure, career prospects, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, crime, poor living circumstances, family pressure, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Themba Interactive is running this project in partnership with the Highveld Anglican Board of Social Responsibility (HABSR). They manages the Safe Parks and organise various training programmes and activities within the parks. The Bishop Simeon Trust (BST), a UK-based organisation sources funding for Themba and HABSR. One of the current funders includes Comic Relief.
In May, Maz Brown, a fundraiser from BST, visited Thembisa to experience Themba's role in the Safe Parks Project.
Project co-ordinator Chelsey May Orsmond said, “When we arrived at Inxiweni Primary School, an established Safe Park, we were welcomed by the older OVCs and two CCAs. The facilitators began the process with drama-oriented participatory games and activities to get the children warmed up.
“From there, the process moved into applied drama exercises designed to acquaint the participants and allow them to get to know each other, enhance listening and communication skills and build trust amongst participants.”