Volunteering with Earthchild Project – more than just giving back.

We have been absolutely blessed an honoured to have some brilliant volunteers supporting Earthchild Project over the last few months. These volunteers have immersed themselves daily in the operating of our programmes and connecting to our earthchildren, have dedicated time over weekends to assist with events, and have offered their skills behind the scenes with fundraisisng, website support and content creation. But the true beauty lies in the connections that our volunteers make with our earthchildren, and their daily experiences in the schools.

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In the Heads of Our Living Classroom Teachers: Hayley Robertson

Not only do we work with amazing Earthchildren, but our living classroom teachers are the ones who actually make our work possible. I had the luck to interview some of our star teachers. First out is Hayley Robertson, a dedicated teacher and environmentalist who does not hesitate to bring her class’ worm farm home for the holidays to keep it running. I have had the luck to meet and talk to her several times during my time in South Africa. Hayley really gives so much energy back to her students as well to the Earthchild Project team!

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Earthchild Spotlight: Athenkosi Khulu

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we will be highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. We present to you the third Earthchild Spotlight : Athenkosi Khulu. Athhenkosi has been a part of the Earthchild Project family since the very beginning of our journey. This young man is currently studying at college and will start his very own hiking club with the Earthchild Project in 2017. I had the honour of interviewing him last week.

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Earthchild Spotlight: Sisonke Sifo

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we will be highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. Sisonke Sifo is the second of our dedications to the youth. Sisonke is 9 years old and attends Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha. She is a talented young yogi who is excited to share her story, which she starts with a huge smile on her face.

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Earthchild Spotlight: Big Dreams in Khayelitsha

In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we will be highlighting 10 remarkable Earthchildren from the past and present. Liso Nokhona starts off our dedication to the youth and if you haven’t heard yet, he is a legend in Khayelitsha.

A year ago, Liso was introduced to yoga and since then he dreams of becoming the youngest male yoga instructor in his community.Without hesitation or apprehension, he takes any opportunity to guide his class through a few rounds of sun salutations.

Wasting no time, Liso is working towards gaining more teaching experience in preparation for the future. Unbeknownst to him it was way overdue to learn about the impact yoga has made on his life.

liso-pictureQ: What does yoga mean to you?

Yoga is my future. This is my first year doing yoga but I love it. It will help me go other places on an airplane like New York City or Los Angeles. My friend has a sweater with those cities.

Q: Of all the exercises & sports, why do you want to teach yoga?

I teach because I want my class to know how you can do yoga & maybe they can eventually teach the rest of the class too. I enjoy the activities of yoga because it makes me healthy.

Q: How does your community receive yoga?

Well, my parents have said, “It’s nice that you want to teach yoga my child.” Limakatso is my classmate that helps me when I mess up.

Q: A lot of women do yoga so do you think you will influence young men to try it?

Yes, it will help them to see how you can do yoga and they will give to other people.

Q: Lastly what is your favorite pose & why?

Butterfly is my favorite pose because I like butterflies in the spring.

Q: Could you describe yoga in two ways? 

1. Yoga is my future

2. It will help me travel to new places overseas

After the “formal” Q/A interview, Liso offered to guide me through his favorite sequence of “yoga activities” starting with butterfly pose, transitioning through all the warrior poses and then finishing with tree pose. As the interview officially came to an end, he looked up at me with the most charismatic & confident smile, “Do you have any more questions for me?”

As this school year winds down, let’s remain committed to sharing and encouraging the dreams of the youth. In addition, stay connected with us to learn about the next Earthchild spotlight and details regarding our 10 year anniversary! #CelebrateECP10

Dominique Camille is an Earthchild project intern working in the schools and the office. She is a yoga teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area deeply committed to social justice and liberating expression. 

After School Club: Empowerment in South Africa

Adults cannot deny the challenge of expressing emotions during the physiological, emotional, & mental changes of puberty. With the After School Young Girl’s club, Earthchild project hopes to ease the emotional turbulence for the 5th/ 6th grade girls at Harmony & Sakumlendela Primary. The girls club focuses on promoting positive identity development through self-compassion, non-violent communication & relationship building.

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This program is led by the three outstanding gap year  interns: Asemahle, Sonwabise (Soso), & Sikelelwa (Sikie) who  were also apart of the girls club and recall it’s relevance during their  formative years. “Young girls club is  a space to talk about anything, even though it could be difficult to open up,” Sikie.

The interns’ confident demeanor influences the young girls to voice their opinions & feel comfortable in their own bodies. Asemahle declares,“ The young girl’s club allows them to feel free to be themselves.” Witnessing this comfort & liberation is a radical act of self-love, as young girls & women often receive damaging information about “standards” of beauty & gender-specific behavior.

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Celebrating & listening to peers allows young girls to value the unique gifts of others, without a negative consequence on their own self-worth. Therefore, sharing quality time with peers allows the group to build support & trust in friendship. It’s believed that the less we judge others, the more we connect to our own capacity for healthy relationships. More importantly, support groups facilitate the movement toward empowerment & deep connection.

Each program at ECP cultivates & develops life skills that will continue long into adulthood. As the young girls club also contributes directly to the ECP mission, it has a distinguished ability to address & prevent issues regarding behavioral, emotional, or mental concerns that may arise at school. Impressed by the momentum & enthusiasm of the girls club, ECP Founder/Director suggests, “We need to start a boys club soon.”

Dominique Camille is an Earthchild project intern working in the schools and the office. She is a yoga teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area deeply committed to social justice and liberating expression. 

Alumni Camp: Strength in Community

In partnership with PYE, we successfully facilitated our 2nd annual alumni camp at the Soewater Environmental Centre. Surrounded by the indisputable beauty of the mountains and ocean, the Staff and Earthchild alumni bonded to create an everlasting family.

The youth participants were bussed in from Lavender Hill & Khayelitsha and exited one-by-one with hesitation and skepticism wondering how the week would unfold for them. Much to their surprise, the feeling of apprehension would soon blow away like the strong force of the Cape Town wind.

Self Expression

Each component of the camp was carefully designed to nurture, challenge & transform the mind, body & spirit of the youth participants. The natural environment not only provided serenity but also offered the capacity for the youth to reach their maximum creative potential.

The dynamic combination of yoga, art, music/dance, & community theatre unlocked hidden talents, interests, and passions that may be subdued through standard education. Creativity was used as a vehicle for youth to get to know themselves in a deeper and sustainable way. “We are looking for the youth to connect with self, their community and then facilitate social change,” Nadia Chaney, PYE Senior Trainer.  Read more

Positive Thinking

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Why embracing positive thinking is so important – especially now.

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The Law of Attraction basically contradicts everything your mum told you when you were a young child and the other children at preschool would pull at your hair and make fun of you: Opposites don’t attract; rather, like attracts like. People who think and act positively will experience positive energy. People who surround themselves with negative and damaging energy are more likely to experience negative side-effects. Happiness and positivity do not just happen. You have to actively work for positivity, actively surround yourself with it and embrace it in your lifestyle.

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Alumni Event – ‘Open Your Hearts’

Yoga is not about how it looks from the outside – it is about how it feels on the inside. Last week Earthchild Project hosted our second Alumni workshop for 2016. Different sessions throughout the day aimed to teach the youths about yoga, healthy eating, their body and how the balance of all comes together to create awareness and mindfulness.

Over 30 youths attended, all of whom have worked with Earthchild for many years. Throughout the years they have come to experience the positive effect this balance has on their minds, bodies and souls and decided to continue this journey with us.
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Holiday Programmes!

Holidays! Most children love them, but if you live in an under-developed area there is not much to during this period. During the past two weeks, Earthchild  has been running 2  holiday programmes in which children from grade 7 can develop their leadership skills.   

Every morning the programmes starts with an hour of yoga, and there are lots of songs and games involved. Because the theme is leadership, there is also a good amount of time for personal development.

This holiday program we had Amy Silverman as a guest facilitator coming from the United States to give a work shop about Authentic Relating  This methods teaches  participants relating skills to understand one another on a deeper level
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Meet Sikelelwa

When Earthchild Project started many years ago, Sikelelwa (or Siki) was one of our very first earthchildren. Now 10 years later, she has become part of the Earthchild team, doing a gap year internship with us. Here is what this inspiring young lady had to say when we asked her a few questions.

Q. What makes you an earthchild?”
-I am an earthchild because I am happy, flexible and I care about nature.

Q. What does Earthchild Project mean to you?
-To me, Earthchild Project means transformation. Ever since I became involved with Earthchild Project, my life has changed completely. I have learnt to live in the present and I’ve gained so many skills on understanding and connecting with my body. Earthchild Project has taught me to accept what I have and change what I can, but mostly it has taught me to find peace within myself.

Q. Why did you want to be involved with Earthchild Project as an intern?
-I first of all wanted to be an intern at Earthchild Project because I love kids and yoga and additionally I wanted time to find my abilities, my skills and myself. And I wanted to do all of this while maintaining the connection I have with my body. Secondly I love the way Earthchild operates and the work they are doing. Lastly I wanted to be an intern at Earthchild because I have been part of their programme since I was a kid, and now I want to give back to my community.
Q. What are your tasks as an intern at Earthchild Project?
-As part of my internship I teach yoga to the earthchildren in Khayelitsha at Ntwasahlobo and in Lavender Hill at Harmony Primary. At these schools I have also assisted with setting up a young girls’ club.

Q. How has your experience teaching yoga been going?
-I really really enjoy teaching yoga to the kids. They are the most wonderful people I know. The classes are going very well and the kids are really amazing. Yes, there are some challenges here and there, but I am enjoying every moment of it!

Q. What do you plan to do when your time as an Earthchild intern is over?
-After my gap year internship I intend to go to university to study to be a vet and I plan to teach yoga and dance to the young kids in my community.

Q. Is this what you see yourself doing 10 years from now as well?
-Yes, in 10 years I hope I will have become a veterinarian doctor and I will have my own project working with young people and passing on the language of dance to them.

Thank you Sikelelwa for inspiring those around you!

The First Hike

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This Saturday was a really exciting one for 21 grade 7’s at Sakumandela Primary School (Khayelitsha). This year they have been chosen to be part of Earthchildproject’s hiking club. At Sakumandela, the hiking club is a tradition lower grades look forward to throughout the years, and only a few children get selected. Most children here have never hiked or been in the forest before, and only experienced township life so far. This was going to be an unique experience.

The enthusiasm was huge when the busses arrived that took the group from Khayelitsha to Cecilia forest. Once we were there, everyone seemed a bit quiet, so before we could start the hike, we had to learn each other’s names. Everyone found himself a partner, and figured out his name, favourite colour, and something they enjoyed in nature. The majority of the children enjoyed the animals, such as the lion and elephant a lot, but also subjects like the grass, the smell of nature, the connection with it, the trees, and the water came up.

Now everyone was a bit more confident, we could start hiking. The first part was not that hard, but when we arrived at the river and started climbing parallel, the adventure started.

On the way, we climbed onto a pile of rocks for a short meditation. All the children have done that numerous times during the living classroom classes, so they immediately sat down and closed their eyes. This time, we used our senses to hear the birds, the wind, and far beneath us the waterfall. We imagined the colours surrounding us, and breathed in the fresh air. During a silent walk after, we tried to keep this peaceful feeling, and really experience our surroundings.

Because this was the first hike, and it would not be fair to exhaust the children to much, we ended in Kirstenbosch gardens, where we had a great picnic with sandwiches and fruit. The children used this time to try out some new yoga poses, such as the craw, bridge and ended up rolling down the hills; the indication for a change in atmosphere. This first hike was definitely a success, next week it is Harmony Primary’s turn.

Yoga fundraiser at The Shala

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Last Wednesday we teamed up with our long-time partners and great friends at The Shala yoga studio to host a fundraiser for Earthchild Project and we’re thrilled to say it was a resounding success! Not only was it a beautiful evening but The Shala raised an astounding R11 600, which will sponsor 58 children’s weekly yoga classes for a whole year – how fantastic is that?! We were over the moon with this result and cannot stress enough how much we appreciate the support of everyone who attended the event. We hope that you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

The night began with a talk from our founder and director Janna Kretzmar about how Earthchild Project came into being and how it has continued to flourish over the last ten years. She outlined the work that we do and the ethos behind it, setting the tone for an inspirational evening and leaving the attendees feeling humbled and happy to be able to contribute. Tamsin and Mariah led the 43 yogis of all levels through a beautiful series of asanas, gently encouraging us to use our practice to (re)connect to Self, others and the world. Throughout the class they affirmed the importance of self-love and acceptance in a way that was truly empowering. We also were lucky enough to have local musical duo Agulhas in the studio with us performing live (and mostly improvised!) music, making the evening all the more special and the atmosphere completely magical. Hearing their soft songs drifting in and out of our consciousness while enjoying a peaceful savasana was utterly blissful!

We are so grateful to The Shala, whose on-going support is such a blessing to us at Earthchild Project. Holding events like this reminds us of the beauty and power of yoga in grounding people and teaching them to love themselves, each other and the earth, which is why we wanted to spread the love of yoga in the first place.

If you missed out on this event but would like to keep updated about our future events, please subscribe to our newsletter by providing your details in the form at the bottom of this link: http://earthchildproject.org/

Starting Strong

School is back in session and we’re excited to be back in class with our Earthchildren, teaching yoga and getting our hands dirty in the worm farms. Earthchild Project is turning 10 this year and we’re feeling inspired for the year ahead.  We’re now working with 48 Living Classrooms, 12 Extra-mural Clubs, 2 Hiking Clubs and 20 Alumni youth – reaching a total of 2500 children! Read more

yoga and meditation for kidsConnect

We teach children to connect to self, each other and the earth through yoga and life skills.

organic gardening worm-farming for kidsCultivate

We teach children to cultivate practical skills for life through gardening and worm farming.

hiking with kidsInspire

We're inspiring a new generation of young leaders through hikes and holiday programmes.

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