Facilitating adjusted behaviour in resource-constrained communities by empowering children

Project leadership team: Prof Ronél Ferreira, Ms Karien Botha, Ms Gerda Gericke, Prof Peet du Toit and Prof William Fraser

Physical fitness, nutrition education, psychological well-being are an important part of a child’s development that are strengthened through learning. Colleagues from the Departments of Educational Psychology; Human Nutrition; Physiology and Science, Mathematics and Technology Education embarked on a multidisciplinary study to develop teaching and learning resources together with teachers in an attempt to enhance the knowledge and skills of both learners and parents by means of an innovative experiential learning programme.

The team co-developed an enriched programme, based on the CAPS Life Skills and Natural Sciences curricula with teachers from the three participating schools as well as representatives of the Department of Agriculture and Basic Education. The project got kids moving through an exercise programme, gardening and growing food as well as learning about nutrition and health lifestyles, in an informal way.

Results from two 10-week learning programmes with Grade 4 to 6 learners near Bronkhorstspruit, Pretoria were impressive. The intervention had a positive impact on the children. As a result, the children were determined to share the skills and knowledge learnt with their families and other community members. Some started their own vegetable gardens at home; others became competitive in comparing their fitness achievements with peers, motivating them to continue exercising on their own. Parents were engaged through carefully designed homework assignments. An evaluative session with parents was met with enthusiasm and active engagement with the researchers in which many questions were asked about how parents can improve their children’s nutrition.

                                           

Overall the intervention proved that empowering school children through innovative learning practices can result in positive change in terms of the psychological wellbeing and health of the community they live in. The passionate team has replicated the project in partnership with Fordham New York City (Bronx campus) through funding from the NRF and Multotech.

- Author IFNuW

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