Progression gets hands on with SED

September 2015

Transformation driven company, Progression, recently announced a new partnership with Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Special Education Needs (SEN) Facilitator, Siyakwazi. The partnership is driven by both organisations’ values around empowerment, inclusion and accessibility for all.

To begin the official partnership, members of the Progression team recently visited the lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal for four days of team-building and empowerment training.

“The purpose of the Siyakwazi team building was two-fold,” explains Beth Cook, CEO of Progression, and director of the team-building exercise. “We wanted our staff to really understand our involvement from an SED perspective while giving back at a human level, but it was also important that we reconnected as a team and re-learnt appreciation for the value that each member adds."

The team building programme began with an introductory talk from Cathy Mather Pike, Founder and Director of Siyakwazi, who talked to the team about what Siyakwazi are involved in. Cathy highlighted the values that Siyakwazi are driven by; to create a sustainable platform for the empowerment of individuals in the community in order to support and add value to existing ECD initiatives. 

The first day started out with an early-morning bootcamp on the beach, followed by the introductions to the Siyakwazi team, referred to as Siyasizas which translates to ‘we support’. The Progression team was divided up into groups, and each group, accompanied by a Siyasiza, began the first of their visits to the rural schools and homes in KwaNzimakwe to find out more about the work done by these dedicated women.

The role of the Siyasiza in these homes and schools is to work closely with children who have various disabilities (both cognitive and physical). In a class of sometimes as many as 80 children, often these children get ‘left behind’. Each Siyasiza uses their own ‘bag’ of support which involves various activities that promote learning and growth to promote inclusion within the classroom; allowing all children to aprticpate. Children learn to identify letters and colours, learn to count, and other various important life skills. Active play is also encouraged as movement has a number of cognitive and mobility benefits.

Day three saw the group meeting with the mentorship team which comes together on a monthly basis for themed sessions aimed at providing the Siyasizas with ideas and tools for their work in the classroom. As many of the Siyasizas are also studying towards formal qualifications, the time allows the team to query their studies and ensure they are on track with various assignments / due dates etc. The theme for this meeting was wild animals and the Progression team participated by dramatising animal stories and acting out the noises and actions made by various ‘wild animals’.

On the final day of the team building, together with members of the surrounding communities, Progression set about building a bike track at the Sphamandla crèche. Active play is an important component of the educational development and support programmes that Siyakwazi offer. Encouraging children to play outside promotes both mental and physical stimulation. To add to the lasting impact on the school, the Progression team also painted an exciting mural painting on the exterior wall to promote learning for the children.

Throughout the four days the Progression team was constantly reminded of the impact that they were making around them and why working as a team was so important. “Every activity, from preparing meals to the management of larger activities, was delegated to teams of people,” explains Beth. “A vital part of the week was for individuals to walk away understanding the bigger picture of their own and others’ roles within the company. It often happens in teams or departments that we forget the significant role that others have to play in ensuring successful business operations.”

The group expressed their gratitude for the experience. “Without the work of small NGO’s like Siyakwazi, we would not be aware of the real and devastating problems our society is facing. Siyakwazi highlights the needs of the most rural and often forgotten children, who need as much exposure, help and assistance as those who are more visible and perhaps more well-known. Teamwork within our societies and businesses is what will make the Siyakwazi/Progression partnership work - both organisations working together, uplifting each other, in order to effect change,” said Imogen Rossam, Business Development Consultant at Progression and participant at the team building.

Progression is committed to life-long learning and inclusion for all, and is working with Siyakwazi to empower communities towards building and supporting effective Early Childhood Development programmes. Together, the two organisations are hoping to effect sustainable change within rural communities, ensuring a brighter tomorrow for future generations. “We invite corporate South Africa to extend their transformation reach to the beginning of an individual’s life by investing in this project,” states Beth. “After all Social Development is about giving back at a human level.”

For more information about the project and how your organisation can get involved, please email enquiries@progression.co.za.

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