Building Bridges
May 18 2016

ALERT's Basic Life Skills Course at the Gweru Drop-in Centre has begun a module about being a team player.  The first lesson began with students discussing the key skills that are needed to work in a team: communication, cooperation, leadership and support.

Pupils were asked to think of situations where team work is needed, and to consider the different roles within a team to ensure it functions effectively.  In two groups, the students considered a specific team, discussed it's purpose (i.e. the common goal of the team members), and the different roles and attributes each team member needed. 

Group A chose to consider Barcelona Football Club.  They listed the team’s common goals as being: to score as many goals per season as possible, to acquire the best players for their team, and to win all the games for the season.  Considering the different roles within the team, pupils stated that defenders must protect the goal so that the opposite team does not score, whilst midfielders have to pass the ball to the strikers so that they score goals, and the goal keeper’s role is to save every goal.  However, pupils stated that the whole team have to be good at certain things i.e. be fit, fast on their feet, alert, and quick thinkers.

Group B chose to discuss a group of people in a church.  They listed the 'team’s' common goals as being: to worship God, encourage people to Christ, and to give hope to the lost.  The group identified several team players involved in this group, including; the pastor, the secretary, treasurer, ushers, and congregants.  Thinking about the specific roles, they defined the pastor as the leader with the highest authority, the secretary handles the administration, the treasurer collects and accounts for all monies, and the ushers make sure the church is clean for the service and assist congregants to their seats.  The congregants meanwhile are all who attend the service to hear the Word preached by the pastor.  Pupils stated that, although the church has different team members with different roles, they share common traits in order to achieve their goals i.e. have a love for people, good communication skills and a heart to help.

During the next lesson, the students played several games focussed on communication skills, before being split into groups and tasked with planning the building of a bridge.  With the help of staff, a list of the team members needed to build a bridge was made: builders, designers, funders, material suppliers, transporters, etc.  Pupils were then asked to link all the different team players with arrows to show how they would work together.  For example, designers were linked to the builders as the builders had to build the bridge according to the design given to them by the designers.  The builders were also linked to the transporters as they would be transporting the materials to them, whilst the transporters linked to the material suppliers, and so on.  The completed links formed a web, showing how people in a team work together to achieve a task.

Overall, the pupils seemed to thoroughly enjoy all the lessons in the module; participating in, and understanding the concepts of each lesson and activity.  Most importantly, they learnt that being a good team player requires communication, cooperation, and support. 

As the Basic Life Skills course continues, students are becoming more attentive, willing to participate, and their concentration levels have increased.  Leaders have naturally begun to emerge amongst the group, and all pupils are gaining confidence.

About the Drop-In Centre

The Centre exists with the aim of rehabilitating street children into mainstream society and education, and reunifying them with their families.  To compliment this programme, ALERT introduced a Basic Life Skills course to help positively mould the character of these young adults.

About Kids Club

Kids Club is our opportunity to implement our Basic Life Skills Course.  The aim of the course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way.  Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution.  The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

Basic Life Skills courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

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