Winter School 2013 Week 1
Week 1 of Winter School 2013, all the preparations and hard work in the previous months have come down to this event. The Monday morning was a little hectic, with the bus service running slightly behind schedule for the Umlazi learners. By the time it hit 9 am, the team was already working hard to make sure everything goes as planned.
The venue for this year was DUT (Durban University of Technology, our kind sponsors), and once again the two KZN branches collaborated and held a joint Winter School, which resulted in having 220 learners and 50 volunteers.
The KZN Team designed the beautiful T-shirts to go with the theme for the KZN Winter School which was “my future is in my hands”. The idea behind it was to remind and reinforce to the learners that they are in the driver’s seat of their own futures. To go hand in hand with the theme a beautiful sketch was drawn by N’thabiseng Zwane from the Umlazi branch. It depicts the world, with various careers, being held by a pair of hands and the image is visual representation of the statement “my future is in my hands”.
The winter school time table (Monday to Thursday) was structured in such a way that mornings would consist of academic tutoring, and the afternoons reserved for activities such as life skills workshops and talks, exercise sessions, and MIE activities and the first Friday was reserved for excursions for all the grades.
One of the first creative activities that were done by the learners was a session encouraging them to reflect on what our winter school theme (My Future is in My Hands) means to them. All the learners had to make “hands” out of paper that represent what the slogan means to them. Some of the learners really put their heart and soul into the creative session. Learners were offered the opportunity to share what they had created with their groups.
We were also graced by the presence of World Changers Academy to speak to the grade 10 and grade 11 learners. The talks were revolved around motivation and letting the learners know that anything is possible and they should never feel like they can’t succeed in life. This is very important as learners are exposed to a lot of negativity in the township on a daily basis.
While we had WCA to motivate the learners and make sure they stay forever hopeful and know they will succeed, we also had people from NICRO talk to the learners about the work they do. NICRO is an organisation that diverts offenders who have committed minor crimes (eg. Minor shop-lifting) from prison to community service and similar activities. The importance of understanding that anyone can commit an offence (sometimes not intentionally) and end up on the wrong side of the law is what this organisation stresses. Gugu Ximba, who works as a drug counselor at the Vuyani Nkosi Youth Centre, where the Chesterville branch is based, presented a drug awareness talk to the learners. She took the learners through a list of common drugs, their side effects and why the learners should stay away from them.
During week one, we also had a visit from the Love life mpintshis., who insisted that all staff and volunteers leave the room as they talk strictly to learners. The purpose of this is to help the learners feel free and comfortable enough to talk about the issues they cover. These range from sexuality to abuse.
DUT was able to come on board even more through their Department of Food and Nutrition. The department was able to send one of their staff members to give the learners a talk on the importance of a balanced diet, how to achieve it and what are some of the consequences of not eating well. They also sponsored each leaner with a tin of cook-in evaporated milk. The talks were spaced over four days. Two days in the first week and two days in the second week.
With most of the activities requiring the learners to pay attention and listen carefully, we needed some activities that they could actively (physically) participate in as well. In the first week all the grades had an opportunity to go to the grounds to exercise after lunch. They were accompanied by an independent fitness trainer who was there to make sure they were participating and doing everything properly. They looked forward to it, especially since they would get a chance to do something different not just sitting in the classrooms.
The one activity that got all the learners very excited was the Amazing Race. We decided to create our own small version of this fun race around the campus. All four grades got to participate in the race at different times. The grade 9s and 12s were the first group. The race included a health quiz, picture puzzle, shooting hoops and solving Maths puzzles.
The Grade 9 and 12 learners were taken on a tour of the Science centre and also witnessed some of the experiments that take place at the centre. The grade 9 learners also got a chance to see the microscopes up close. The matric group also got to do a learning styles workshop. The workshop allows participants to determine their learning styles. This allows a person to better understand how they make decisions and also how they interpret the world. It is a true eye-opener for anyone who has ever wondered why and how they do certain things different to other people.
At the Green Corridor Estuary the grade 10 and 11 group did a beach clean-up. They also got a chance to see the famed Mangroves of Durban and learn all about them.
All in all the first week was an exciting and great learning curve for the team.