Partnerships in our communities are crucial and the youth can lead the way. This was clear at Jan van Riebeeck Primary School last week where Ellerton Primary School pupils held a market day as part of the academic programme.
The partnership began with Green Point resident Stephanie le Roux’s Alive Foundation. A parent at Jan van Riebeeck Primary School, Ms Le Roux said the Alive Foundation began five years ago after her battle with cancer.
“I was ill and I wanted to give back to my own community. There are so many people who bring their children to school in the City Bowl that need help. They don’t have the same means that our children have.”
To date, the foundation has worked with various schools, hospitals and old age homes in the community. Some of their projects included the Kangaroo care centre at Somerset Hospital, ongoing support at Ellerton Primary in Sea Point and Prestwich Street Primary as well as organising Christmas parties at old age homes. “I always wanted to establish a partnership with schools. What they are doing today is an academic outreach between the schools. In high school this is one of their subjects.”
Ms Le Roux said she reached out to Ellerton many years ago when she was a parent at Reddam.
“We mentor for one hour a week at Ellerton and then we have this project today. I went to see (former Springbok captain) Jean de Villiers and told them about this project.”
She said they were looking at expanding the project to other schools. “If you want to do charity but you’ve only got five or six hours a year you can do this programme.”
The Green Point resident added that it was important for her children to be involved in this kind of community work. “They need to see and talk with people from various backgrounds. It’s very important for my children. Doing community work is a weekly thing in my house.”
She said they were planning to run the same programme at Prestwhich Street Primary School next term. “It is difficult for people to commit for a year. If you really want to do community work, it is on your doorstep and it is an hour a week.”
Ria Hertzog, a teacher at Jan van Riebeeck, said it was important for them to reach out to other schools. “These kids struggle to get the support because they are leaving (home) at 4am in the morning (to get to school). Each group has a mentor and now we have a place where they can sell their stuff. Our kids are also gaining a lot through the whole process and they are establishing new friendships.”
Head of the academic department at Ellerton Primary School, Abdurrasheed Rossier, said it was great for the pupils to be involved in the project. “This was an initiative by Stephanie and when she made contact it just made sense to us. We were always looking for opportunities to join up with neighbouring schools. We jumped at the opportunity and their level of input is amazing and boosts us as well.”
He said the school’s Grade 7s are currently involved with an Economic Marketing Science (EMS) project and the market day was one of the components of it. “They are marketing their products at Jan van Riebeeck. It’s a great interaction because on the teacher, principal, management and even pupil level we just seem to click quite well. There is a lot of work that goes into this.”
Mr Rossier added that the interaction was in sport as well as academic. “This morning in the bus I listened to the children talking and I could hear the level of excitement. It’s a community-based thing. At our school the community is bused in so we don’t really have parent involvement after hours. It’s difficult for us to maintain our extramural programmes because of the transport factor.”
He said that Ms Le Roux and a group of seven other parents came to Ellerton school every Tuesday for the last two terms. They split the class and work in groups of seven. “The dedication of the parents and the involvement is phenomenal.” He said the pupils had benefited phenomenally from the programme.
Mr de Villiers said part of his work now was looking where they could uplift communities and make a difference. “I got to know Stephanie and I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and come here. By signing autographs for kids and sharing a little bit of my experiences with them, hopefully that will motivate and inspire them to push through in difficult circumstances in our country at the moment. Hope is very important and hopefully we achieved that today.”
Mr De Villiers, who was attending the event on behalf of Citadel’s philanthropy programme, added that the two schools interacting was a vital part of the project. “Inequality in our country is a massive issue. We need to touch on that and make sure that we change that and it starts with our youth. Our youth will show us how to do it. By mixing the two schools learn a lot, not only Ellerton but also the kids from Jan van Riebeeck to see how privileged they are for what they have. There is a responsibility to give back and learn from each other as well. It is fantastic and hopefully we changed some lives through it today.”
He encouraged the community to get involved with the foundation. “As a community we need to invest in our community,” he said.
For more information about the Alive Foundation and about how to get involved, contact Ms Le Roux on 083 261 8961.