Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sports-centered approaches used to reach pre-scholars

The King’s Foundation (KF), in close partnership with the United States Peace Corps in Botswana (USPC), conduct volunteer training programmes, using sport as a proven tool and an effective platform for delivering health, education or faith messages for children attending pre-schools.

A cohort of 25 volunteers drawn from civil society organizations, primary schools, and preschools attended a USPC- KF sponsored half-day workshop held at Lete Heights preschool in Ramotswa on January 24.

Based on KF research, sports-centred approaches complement the sterling efforts of a substantial number of organizations in Botswana that deliver good messages but do not necessarily engage young people effectively. During orientation sessions, much time is spent on demonstrating games that children can enjoy while playing with equipment, accessories and other peripheral devices in the BASE Pack.

KF has designed a gender neutral pack of sports equipment called a “BASE Pack”. Upon completion of the orientation workshop, this pack is left with capable leaders to use in their communities, schools, churches. Although important for those that receive the BASE Pack, the pack is a valuable resource for anyone working with children and interested in teaching children simple games and sports. The base pack assists individuals with engaging large groups of young people using little or no equipment. What sets the sports approach apart from other youth-outreach methods is that the training sessions are a lot of fun and participants are connected with like-minded leaders.

Participants are introduced to other organizations doing similar things. They learn how to do a lot with little or no resources and hopefully are inspired to conduct regular activities of their own for young people in their community.

KF South Regional Coordinator, Oliver Muchazviona, said instruction using the BASE Pack has proved incremental in changing and providing much-needed psychosocial support for young people in their formative learning phases of 3 to 5 years old: the pre-school stage. The discerning factor is the use of fun as the vehicle for imparting the information in a rather informal way.

Muchazviona, who is a certified health and fitness instructor, said: “We provide equipment, inspiration and know-how to transform children, the young and communities. Motivated by our Christian heritage and wide deep-rooted conviction to help children enjoy a happy childhood and fulfill their potential; KF believes that sports play a vital role in a child’s development. The sports participation model developed over a period of 20 years can be used in any setting to get children active and provide a platform for communicating faith, education and health messages.

“Notwithstanding, every child needs the basics of food, water and warmth to survive, and in addition, security, education and a supportive social setting. Very few children grow up to become sports stars; however, every child can enjoy the benefits of sports participation. Sport should therefore be accessible fun to develop self-esteem, confidence, a sense of achievement and mutual respect for others.”

KF started receiving “Gap-Year” college students from the UK in 2002. These students would come twice a year to work alongside local organizations and show them how to use sport to engage young people during school holidays. In 2005 expat and local volunteers increased programme delivery to include non-holiday months (year round) and establish sustainable community outreach programmes in Francistown and Gaborone. In an effort to have a greater impact on Botswana, teams of locally trained volunteers began visiting rural villages to conduct leadership workshops for leaders of other NGOs and faith-based groups.

In 2012 KF changed their delivery model by focusing on rural communities and providing credible individuals/organizations with the basic resources needed to conduct programmes for children and young people.

Monitoring various sites throughout the country is extremely challenging, in 2012 Kings entered in to a strategic partnership with Peace Corps volunteers, situated throughout the country and in many cases living in remote villages that receive limited support from outside organizations. Kings provides training and basic resources for passionate leaders to conduct regular community sports outreach programmes for young people while Peace Corps provides Kings with accountability and the ability to accurately monitor and evaluate community programmes.

Kings Volunteer and distributing BASE Packs is made possible by in-country grants, donations and income generating events. To date BASE Packs have been sponsored by the Department of Social Services, United States Embassy and European Union (Non-State Actors Fund). Kings Foundation also generates income from school holiday camps called Kings Camps and in 2011 organized a cycling event called Tour Ya Botswana to help raise funds for Kings Volunteer. One BASE Pack costs about BWP2500. Individuals have also started to sponsor single BASE Packs for deserving sites throughout the country.


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