The next section will present short descriptions of seven projects that we've have implemented and are runninc successfully:
1. Positive principle project
2. Afrikaans reading project (“Leeskamer”)
3. Music project
4. Blue Bus meetings Spiritual well-being
5. Clever Club - Computer classes
6. Princess Club
7. Kings Club

Contact Izanette van Schalkwyk

1. Positive principle project

The Positive Principle Project is about characters strengths and how to translate these strengths into daily living for all members of the school community, i.e. learners, educators and parents. The positive principle project is about “laws-of-life” that act as a GPS for youngsters to show them in a very simple and practical manner how to think, choose, and to behave in order to achieve their goals and to build positive relationships. The six principles to guide thinking, emotions, decisions and behaviour are respect (justice), helping (humanity and love), honesty (courage), excellence (transcendence) , empowerment (wisdom and knowledge) , and self-discipline (temperance).

2. The Afrikaans reading project

The project called “the Afrikaans reading room” involves the encouragement of academic performance, for example improved reading skills and comprehension, as well the building of positive relationships. The participants in the projects (learners) have the opportunity to be exposed to a professional person (drama and writer), they are empowered to develop their creative skills, e.g. writing poems about their lives. In addition, the participants are trained to present these verses on stage in front of a selected audience. Youngsters are encouraged to use their imagination, such as selecting a hat and telling a story about the particular hat (see photograph), for example the story of the “voortrekker-kappie”.  Apart from the educational importance, the participants enjoy the experience of connectedness and trustworthiness, seeing that the project leader is part of this project for many years (2008-2014). And, the long term involvement of the project leader as well as her kindness and sincerity are significant aspects of relational well-being.

3. The music club: School choir and music tuition

The music project entails the school choir at Hindle High, recorder and piano classes. This project aims to develop positive functioning, achievement, self-discipline, as well as the experience of excellence and beauty. The learners have the amazing chance to perform inspirational (intellectual) music in excellent auditoriums with well-known South African youth choirs, to attend high quality music concerts, such as Western art music and to interact with well-adapted youngsters from other school communities (whom they would not have met “normally”). Music tuition and the regular choir practises are first-class learning opportunities for the Blikkiesdorp youngsters as to the practical knowing how to realize their dreams. This is of the utmost importance, since many youngsters in Blikkiesdorp have “fantasies” or far-fetched/unrealistic dreams about their future or being successful. The music tuition and the needed hard work to perform with other choirs underline that success equals continuous commitment (whether I feel like it or not).  The becoming part of and working together with other school choirs are empowering experiences for the Blikkiesdorp youngsters with a vision to become active agents of positive change in the school and bigger community (social ecologies).

4.Spiritual well-being (Blue Bus Ministry)

The Blue Bus Project involves the following: Youngsters have the opportunity to pray together and to support each other in a real bus (Blue Bus donated by Christian business men) on the school grounds (this is important, since most children do not have a private space in the tin houses in Blikkiesdorp); Weekly meetings (where all youngsters are welcome) to worship God, to celebrate the gift of Life and purposeful living; to express their gratitude for many blessings, such as the ability to walk, or to have friends; to be enthusiastic about the Love of God, as well as the daily opportunities to be of service, as well as specific events to reach out to other school communities to serve them with food parcels, or to serve elderly people of the Delft community with tea and cake, or the Blikkiesdorp households with gifts of blankets during the cold winter months (see photograph); being part of a support group  to talk about important issues such as the importance to forgive, for example when involved in sexual abuse; to joyfully celebrate birthdays in the Blue Bus with cake, cold drinks and sweets (a scarcity in the Blikkiesdorp community); to share hope and to make new plans when horrifying events obstruct the youngsters’ goals towards achievement, for example being attacked and robbed by gangsters on their way to school; opportunities to go on excursions for week-ends and to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation at the beach, and the wealth of people’s kindness, for example visiting a farm and nourishing meals.

5. Clever Club: Computer classes

The Clever Club is a project to empower the learners as to master computer literacy. Many of the Delft and Blikkiesdorp youngsters have to deal with difficulties and chronic stressors associated with extreme poverty, such as lack of food, and lack of funds to buy electricity is a continuous reality, dysfunctional families and domestic violence as well as co-morbid illness such as alcohol abuse and substance addiction. Aside from these factors many youngsters have to cope with unsupportive parents, and there is a high incidence of drop out and school failure in the secondary schools in the Delft area (for example: Secondary school in Delft: 350 learners in grade 8, and 32 learners in grade 12, 2012).

Apart from needed equipment and an expert as project leader the Clever Club participants have the opportunity to master the character strength of self-regulation, seeing that this project (as the other projects) is an extra-mural activity. Within the Delft and Blikkiesdorp community “after school activities” are not associated with opportunities for positive functioning, but it is linked to being punished for bad behaviour. It is clear that the name of this project, namely “The Clever Club” is a clear indication of the aims of the project towards school success and personal competence.

6. Princess Club

The original intention of the Princess Club was to support pregnant teenage learners to complete their school education. Seeing that South Africa, and especially the Western Cape has an extremely high incidence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The international Fetal alcohol spectrum prevalence provides the following information: USA (0.1 - 0.3%); France (0.1%); Sweden (0.1%); Italy (0.4 – 0.7%); South Africa (Western Cape, Wellington, 8.8%) (Viljoen & Douglas, 2010).It is important to provide these youngsters with information about a healthy pregnancy, and to encourage them not to use alcohol or substances during the pregnancy. The aim of this initiative is to deliberately develop higher levels of well-being with the specific focus as to develop positive relations and resilience in the learners. Psychological strengths such as being a person of integrity and positive self-esteem as well as skills regarding healthy relations and intimacy are significant issues for the Princess Club-participants. In response to a request from the learners this project was extended to include more female learners, and to facilitate a process of translating personal strengths such as self-discipline into behaviour.

More teenagers (more or less 35 participants) have the opportunity to be part of the project with the following plan-in-action:
i) Being equipped with the necessary information about the human body and healthy sexual behaviour;
ii) being empowered with information and practices to become “a princess”, i.e. healthy self-worth and the needed assertiveness to enjoy womanhood and to life her dreams;
iii) being part of a group to share experiences of hurt and abuse within the family context;
iv) to learn about healthy relationships, and,
v) to recognise risk factors in self, as well as relationships versus the denial of impaired relations and the mere avoidance of being raped. The princesses are encouraged to use positive emotions, for example gratitude, hope and humor on a daily basis. One of the princesses who did complete her school education successfully during 2012, told a reporter from a well-known daily newspaper: “Thank God, I am so grateful that I’ve passed my matric. Now I want to get a job, and to save money, to buy my parents and my baby a house.”

7. The Kings Club

The Kings Club accommodate secondary school boys who are dealing with many risk factors, such as domestic violence and impaired relationships; the absence of their biological fathers and broken relationships; gangsters (dysfunctional outsiders), low self-regards as well as in-assertiveness; and, meaninglessness (absence of purpose and “failed future”). These boys meet once per week and they are taking part in courses to address the following topics:
i) Meaning, i.e. living a life of purpose and being connected in healthy ways to God and others;
ii) positive relationships and practical guidelines, for example how to treat a lady when you take her out on a date;
iii) achievement, and practical strategies to apply self-discipline, for example to do your school assignments and to come to school versus being absent (as a rule) for two days per week;
iv) positive role models, such as healthy and flourishing men form the Delft community, for example the headmaster of Hindle High who grew up in an environment such as Blikkiesdorp and is inspiring youngsters to overcome their dreadful circumstances continuously;
v) self-mastery, and to become agents of positive change and living examples of resilience, for example to communicate effectively to their primary caregivers the importance of their study-time at home, and not to send them during the night to buy alcohol, seeing that the youngsters choose not to perpetuate negative cycles of families, such as the biological father in jail (not providing for family) or the mother being an alcoholic living with an abusive boyfriend.

The regular meetings provide the needed support for the Kings to interact in various manners and to be exposed to positive examples of manhood, such as the small group discussions and men from faith communities, playing soccer and going on excursions, such as visiting Table mountain for “absailing” with positive role-models.