When school holidays hit, young children living on farms in the Western Cape are often stranded with inactivity. However, the Inspire School Holiday Programme led by Ingrid Lestrade and her team are keeping the young minds of rural farm children on Middelpos and surrounding farms busy. Together, they explore different farming practices, learn, and have some fun in the mud.
The programme is all about creating safe spaces for farm children in middle-course and surrounding farms. There are about 15 farms altogether that children are collected from, Lestrade tells Food For Mzansi.
“The winter holidays are the longest holidays of the year, its cold, wet and there are unpleasant situations at home. These children live in horrible accommodation, which is damp and unpleasant,” she adds.
Trying to keep young minds motivated
The main goal is to try and stimulate their brains positively to keep them motivated to return to school, Lestrade explains. She says usually if they do not have a winter programme and the children are at home for that long, they often end up not returning to school. As a result, they drop out of school very early.
“The main aim is to try to keep them in school by doing school holiday programmes. To create safe spaces for them and try to have fun, get them to laugh because a lot of farm children grow up as adults at a very young age,” she says.
Lestrade explains that the older siblings look after the younger ones while the parents have gone out to work. That is why these holiday programmes are so important. “There are adults taking care of them rather than them taking care of each other.”
Young children between the ages of 3 years and 18 from surrounding areas participate in different educational activities on the farm like problem-solving, transportation and weeding. In this picture, the participants are using wheelbarrows to carry weeds and transport them in routine movements out of the garden. This week about 70 children are taking part in ‘Educational Week, which consists of various farming lessons at Aunty Judith’s Garden. Photo: Supplied/Inspire Children and Youth
While working on the farm, the children take part in fun opportunities and even make up their own games like making mud pies. They do this after seeing how their parents bake bread at home. In most cases, the little ones are excited to go back to school because they will have something to share about their holiday. They enjoy it, and their imagination is sparked. Photo: Supplied/Inspire Children and Youth
One of the students suffers from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but Lestrade has discovered that when he spends time in the garden pulling out weeds, he is able to sit in one spot and focus on what he is doing. On the farm, the rural farm children grow their own veggies. Photo: Supplied/Inspire Children and Youth
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