I hate to admit it, but as a child, one of my greatest joys was tearing the paper off of a new straw, dropping a splash of soda onto the wrapper and watching it wriggle open as a worm. I felt sophisticated using a straw. And it was always associated with the treat of a sugary soda drink (something else that makes me cringe). Fast forward twenty years and the idea that big franchises and educated people can still hand out and use straws blows my mind.
We are well aware that there is much evidence out there that proves the benefits of mindfulness for children. But we are equally aware of the challenges that come with trying to implement that mindfulness in the chaotic classroom and often hectic home. So, in order to assist, we’ve scoured the web for some resources and tips that offer excellent methods for child mindfulness that are sure to make being present for children a little bit more fun and, well…mindful.
Gardening is one of humankind’s oldest practices, yet we seem to have lost the essence of this practice in the modern world. It is a given that growing your own veggies and fruits will improve your diet, but gardening also has a number of other physical and psychological benefits that will get you wanting to plant those seeds right away.
Mindfulness practices are beginning to be more fully recognised in their capacity to benefit children physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually not only at school, but in everyday life. At its core, mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present moment with a disposition of kindness and curiosity. Paying attention to the moment through visualisation, mindful walking, meditation, breath-work and yoga are all ways in which children can become presently embodied and grounded.
Sharing environmental knowledge and stimulating awareness about, and care for, nature are core aspects of Earthchild Project’s practices. But finding the right people for this job can often be a challenge. The children need someone to look up to, someone interesting to learn from and someone willing to be with them every day and share their love for nature. In this light, we would like to welcome Etienne Basson, Earthchild’s newest team member
After the much-needed storms in Cape Town, we still find ourselves in a worrying drought crisis, at the heart of which lies our everyday use of water. We have been working hard to save water, but we must still work harder in so many easy, everyday ways. Small efforts can go a long way. And apathy never gets anyone, anywhere very fast.
Worm farming, something Earthchild has implemented in the schools in Kayehlitsha and Lavender Hill, is a method of using worms to process organic food waste in order to produce a nutrient rich soil. Food waste includes coffee grounds, eggshells, tea bags, fruits and vegetables and even cardboard or paper. This is extremely beneficial for the environment in that the waste which would normally end up in a landfill is converted into compost for the garden.
The community of Khayelitsha, where Earthchild Project is present in 4 schools, is a very special one. The children are happy, smiling, and eager to learn and practice yoga, but their living and home situation is not always ideal, with some areas having families of 8-10 people living in one shack and having to walk up to 200 m for running water. Khayelitsha is one of the fastest growing townships in Cape Town and is prone to all different types of violence. Earthchild Project aims to help the children living in this environment to realise their potential and to create new possibilities for their lives.
The day that I got to interview Bruce Asia was one of those days when everything felt a bit upside down. At least for my colleague. When driving to the school she realised that she had put her pants on inside out and when we parked at Levana Primary I asked her quietly: “But hey, doesn’t Bruce work at Hillwood Primary?…”. After a short, confused silence, she answered “Yes, he does” filled with laughter. After lots of laughing between us, we arrived at Hillwood Primary and had a photo shoot to capture Bruce’s class with their worm farm. Bruce has a love filled but firm manner with his students and you can tell that he cares dearly for them all. He has a special relationship with Earthchild Project, and he is involved in many other projects to develop Hillwood Primary, too. Bruce is an inspiring person and I am so very happy that I was able to sit down and talk to him.
“It’s hard to believe that this time 10 years ago the very first seeds of Earthchild Project began to sprout. Three young ladies with a big idea and lots of energy and passion started out in two Cape Town schools. It’s been quite a journey with many lessons, challenges, highlights, connections and growth… and a journey full of the gift of working with thousands of very special children. This journey would not have been possible without YOUR support and the incredible ‘eco-system’ of relationships that have developed over the years. We would like to say a very big THANK YOU to our donors, partners, teachers, schools and volunteers… it has been a privilege working with you all and we are deeply grateful for your ongoing love and support.”
– Janna Kretzmar, Founder and Director, Earthchild Project
This charismatic woman, Vuyelwa Rola, does not leave anyone untouched. She truly has the power of words and she proved this during our interview at Yomelela Primary, where Vuyelwa is a teacher. We sat on two chairs in the school’s beautiful garden that is run by local “mamas”. So much beauty around us with all leafy greens sprouting and so much beauty in Vuyelwa’s Earthchild Project story.
“The society we’re in, it’s a society that has a lot of noise…The children come from homes that are abusive so when they are with Earthchild Project they really feel calm, they really feel different.” – Vuyelwa Rola
2016_Amanda Norrlander-1-14It’s hard to believe that we are almost through the first month of 2017, while some of us feel like we were still getting used to writing 2016 in our diaries! What with technology and social media, things sure do seem to be speeding up. It’s at times like these that we need to remind ourselves to take a step back, a deep breath in and to just be present in the moment of possibilities for the new year ahead.
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!