Community Keepers

By: Community Keepers  11-11-2011
Keywords: School, Educators

We intervene with learners, educators and parents, providing services in four specific areas: psychosocial, educational, recreational and material.

The services provided are largely determined by the needs identified by the clients as well as the professional evaluations of our staff members – social worker, clinical psychologist, educator and counselor.

CURRENT INTERVENTION

From July 2009, our skills and resources are focused on Lűckhoff Secondary School in Stellenbosch. Psychosocial, educational and recreational services are being provided from the Community Keepers school office to Lűckhoff learners, educators and parents. During January 2011 we opened our second school office at Idas Valley Primary School in Stellenbosch where we provide specific services to specific grades. Both these schools have strong ties with the surrounding community and it is clear that many of the problems and needs identified in the school environment are reflective of similar issues in the community.

FUTURE PLANS

Although current intervention is limited to specific interventions in two particular schools in the Stellenbosch community, we plan to roll out additional phases of intervention in the near future. These additional phases will aim to develop psychosocial, educational, recreational and material services at other schools. Ultimately, we aim to effect change on all levels of functioning for individuals, schools, families and communities in Stellenbosch, the Western Cape and the nation of South Africa.

Psychosocial

Our psychosocial services aim to protect and promote healthy emotional and social functioning of learners and educators. Intervention with individuals and groups aims to positively affect relationships with family, friends, acquaintances and authority figures.

LEARNERS’ CONCERNS
  • Divorce / separation of parents
  • Family concerns (tension, single parents)
  • Physical and emotional neglect / abuse
  • Relationship concerns and poor role models
  • Trauma / crisis (hijacking, rape, death of loved one)
  • Emotional concerns (sadness, anger, fear, anxiety/worry, low self-esteem, stress, loneliness, depression)
  • Poor nutrition / eating disorders
  • Alcohol / Drug problems
  • Peer concerns / gangsterism
  • Sexual promiscuity, teenage pregnancy, abortion
  • STDs, HIV and other medical problems
  • Behavioural problems
  • Lack of support
EDUCATORS’ CONCERNS
  • Burden of personal concerns and work-related issues
  • Work related burnout (overloaded)
  • Poor recognition / support
  • Depression and other emotionally related problems
  • Conflict with other educators
  • Conflict with learners’ parents (value clash)
  • Disciplinary problems in classroom
SERVICES
  • Clinical assessment and diagnosis
  • Trauma debriefing / Crisis intervention
  • Individual counseling / psychotherapy
  • Support groups: substance abuse, behavioural problems, etc.
  • Personal and social educational programmes: workshops, seminars and camps focussing on important life-skills, e.g. stress management, discipline, etc.
  • Nutritional intervention assessment and diagnosis, advice on diet, weight loss / gain, eating disorders, sports nutrition, use of supplements, health promotion
  • Leadership development programmes with school leaders e.g. prefects and class captains 
  • Professional development workshops with educators 
  • Parenting seminars  
  • Career guidance expo
BENEFITS
  • Greater insight into problems and provision of a professional opinion concerning problems
  • Skills gained in the management of problems, stress, peer pressure, relationship boundaries, emotions, behavior, decision-making
  • Modification of false / negative perceptions: self-esteem building and establishment of personal norms and values
  • Advice on how to change relationship dynamics (family, partner, spouse, friends, colleagues, people in authority) which have a negative impact on your life
  • Diagnosis of clinical problems and effective treatment / referral where deemed necessary e.g. in cases of severe depression / anxiety etc.
  • Greater motivation and stimulation towards purposeful living

Educational

Our educational services aim at directly or indirectly influencing the educational development and functioning of learners and educators. Intervention with individuals and groups aims to enhance overall academic performance.

LEARNERS’ CONCERNS
  • Learning problems (dyslexia)
  • Difficulties with particular subjects
  • Inadequate / lack of text books
  • Educator / learner relationship clash
  • Lack of academic support classes
  • Poor class discipline
  • Reading and writing skills
EDUCATORS’ CONCERNS
  • Difficulties balancing work and after-school commitments
  • Curriculum problems
  • Classroom management
  • Inadequate training (special needs / learning problems)
SERVICES
  • Various academic support programmes: support in specific subjects, effective study methods and reading and writing
  • Enhancing the Life Orientation curriculum in order to make the content more relevant and accessible to learners and to address the above-mentioned psychosocial concerns
  • Workshops focusing on enhancing educators’ training (classroom management, etc.)
  • Thorough clinical assessment of struggling learners by a professional
BENEFITS
  • Academic performance enhanced
  • Improvement of reading and writing skills
  • Effective study methods are encouraged and implemented
  • Information sharing and training for learners and educators

Recreational

Our recreational services aim to establish and develop both sport and cultural activities presented in the school environment. Intervention with individuals and groups aims to encourage and enhance overall recreational participation and performance.

LEARNERS’ CONCERNS
  • Limited opportunity for participation in sport and exercise
  • Inadequate coaches and resources
  • Restricted opportunity for cultural participation
EDUCATORS’ CONCERNS
  • Difficulties balancing work and after-school commitments
  • Inadequate training in specific sport
  • Limited coaching experience
  • Inadequate resources
SERVICES
  • Weekly exercise classes
  • Sport coaches (volunteers) for specific codes: rugby, football, hockey, netball and chess
  • Drama classes and the production of a play
BENEFITS
  • Enhanced holistic development of learners (physical, mental and social)
  • Improved individual and team performance
  • Opportunities to participate in various activities
  • Contribution to overall positive school morale

Material

At present, we are not intervening in this area, although we plan to expand the project in the near future to address the physical needs of learners and educators in the school environment. However, we do not see ourselves directly delivering services in this area but being the link between the school and individuals or groups who do provide in material needs. These individuals or groups will ideally provide to learners and educators in the areas of personal (food and clothes) and communal needs (school facilities and resources).

Keywords: Educators, School