‘What makes a child gifted and talented may not always be good grades in school, but a different way of looking at the world and learning‘. This quote by Chuck Grassley perfectly sums up my experience at the Saints Preschool.
Saints Pre-School is made up of kids from Kensington in east Johannesburg and its surrounding areas. A preschool aimed at the working class of Johannesburg, Saints Preschool is more than just a school, it is a haven where children can learn, explore and experience. Aged from 1- 6 years old, each child is separated based on their age into classes such as the Dolphins, Teddy Bears, Clowns or Tigers. Each class has 1-2 teachers who read stories to them, help them with their arts and crafts and organise their breakfast and lunch daily.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to spend the afternoon at the school. Watching these kids play, sing and dance without a care in the world is what grew my affinity to this school. Speaking to the wonderful woman behind the scenes, Debra Palmer, it is clear that most of these kids come from broken homes that are riddled with poverty, neglect and/or abuse. Saints is a sort of oasis that gives these kids the platform to communicate and feel safe.
I learnt, from my discussion with Debra that a more open-minded and liberal approach to education and punishment is needed and flourishes here. There are continuous bullying workshops that take place at the school as well as basic sex education to teach the kids what is and is not acceptable behaviour towards them.
Coming from an upper to middle class preschool, my days were spent in the sandbox or playing kissing catches with my first love. These kids have it very differently. Debra explains that the children cannot change the situations from where they come ( many come from homes rife with domestic abuse) though they provide workshops on how to deal with certain issues. Debra is all about empowering these young kids and giving them the tools to help them better understand and communicate issues that most people never have to deal with, let alone kids. It is refreshing to hear a teacher, who has been in the game for many years, talk about each child with such love and kindness. ‘ These children need to be listened to’- it was this sentence that made me want to help out in any way I could.
The school is really well run and put together, though there is a lot that Debra needs to make sure her children get the best of the best. Washing machine, Toys, books, blankets, clothes for the kids and for the teachers that work there, cutlery and crockery, jungle gym, sandpit, and any other donations would be greatly appreciated. These kids are the bright, shining beacons of hope for this country and places like Saints, needs to be taken care of to make sure these kids reach their full potential.
If you, or know anyone that would like to donate please email Riccileek@gmail.com.