Looking After Myself
July 26 2016

The “Looking After Myself” lesson in ALERT’s basic life skills course for children from the Drop-in Centre in Gweru builds on the ideas of being reflective and self- aware, which helps to build ambition and confidence.

One at a time, students were asked to show a facial expression about how they were feeling at the moment. The rest of their peers then had to explain their expression.  Some of the expressions shown on the faces were: happy, sad, angry, cold, goofy (silly), and hungry.  Students had fun making the faces and there was much laughter from their peers as they guessed the faces made.  This activity is beneficial, as it helps students to reflect on their mood and emotions, as well as to improve their ability to be aware of the feelings of others.

Diamond Nine Activity

In this activity, pupils were given nine statements; health, happiness, money, food, family, friends, soccer, school, work.  They were asked to place the statement they feel is the most important at the top of an imaginary diamond.  The next two most important ones go beneath it, then the next three, the two less important beneath that and the one they feel is the least important at the bottom - creating the diamond shape.

Students placed the statements in different positions to each other, showing that they each have different priorities.  All students ranked food as one of their most important things.  When asked why, they stated that since they live on the streets, it is something they always have to strive to get.

The next activity was a continuation of the Diamond Nine activity.  Students had to stand in different groups depending on what statement they prioritised as most important.  In each group, they had to discuss why they put that statement as most important.  After doing so, each group had to pick a spokesperson to tell everyone else why it was most important.

The different views given were:

Food: ‘Food is what I live for, I cannot survive without food’.

Soccer: ‘I love soccer because it keeps me entertained and fit’.

Happiness: ‘Playing soccer and spending time with my friends makes me happy’.  One of the students profoundly noted that happiness cannot be bought but comes from within.

At the end of the activity, some students began to change their minds about what they considered as important.  They stated that they realised that soccer and money were not as important as family, friends or happiness.  

The next activity focused on ‘Self-care’.  As the children participating in this activity live on the streets, staff and volunteers decided to focus on hygiene as part of the self-care lesson.  Students were told the importance of hygiene, i.e. bathing, brushing teeth, cleaning ears, and washing hands after using the bathroom and especially before eating.  They were taught about how being clean makes you more presentable, and creates a better impression to people around you.  Bath soaps, toothbrushes, mouth wash and ear buds were then given to each child to consolidate the lesson.

Overall, the activities on “Looking After Myself”, proved to be beneficial and well received by the students.

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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