According to www.thelancet.com new estimates, based on proxy measures of stunting and poverty, indicate that 250 million children (43%) younger than five years in low-income and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential. As such, BTC endeavours to share ECI therapy free of charge with those in disadvantaged communities who have no other access to the benefits of early developmental therapy for their babies. Early intervention on the young developing brain has a high impact on the development of learning skills needed for cognitive function in education, including mathematics and science.
All our Outreach screening, therapy and training sessions are conducted free of charge.
SALVOKOP OUTREACH PROGRAM
The babies at the Salvokop project are developmentally delayed due to environmental circumstances, although a small percentage also have disabilities or conditions such as Autism or Downs Syndrome. For this group, a Speech-Language Therapist gives attention to speech and language development. A Music Therapist attends to psycho-social and emotional aspects impacting development. For these children, the chances are great that they can eventually reach their full potential emotionally, intellectually and academically, if we can lay down the right skills development at the earliest possible time. The BTC Therapists also offer teacher training to help facilitators enhance and improve their skills to offer an optimal early learning experience for each child.
Abba House is part of the SA Care for Life group. They offer specialised care to babies and toddlers in crisis, from birth to the age of five years old.
Abba House care for a maximum of twelve children at any given stage. It is a temporary place of safety where children can be received and evaluated until a more permanent placement can be found through family placements, foster care or adoption.
BTC is privileged to be able to invest in these children’s lives through our weekly outreach programme. The programme allows a sensory stimulation approach to promote and sustain the typical development of these babies and toddlers.
Ditshego House of Laughter opened a preschool in the Mooiplaats informal settlement. The organisation offers pre-school, aftercare and literacy programs to help young children develop the necessary skills they need for school and caters for one-hundred-and-forty vulnerable learners.
Mooiplaats is home to about 16 000 people, the majority of whom are either stateless or undocumented, and there are no resources such as schools, running water, police stations, electricity, clinics or formal crèches. The one exception is a sanitation system of fifty portable toilets that provide for the basic needs of this community of disproportionately younger people. The community has expressed the following concerns:
- Water shortage (water trucks deliver water daily).
- The dumping site is a health risk.
- The medical services are not sufficient (mobile clinics assist once a week).
- The unemployment statistics are high.
- There are no police facilities.
- Fifty chemical toilets serve the community.
- The teacher assistants have received minimal training.
In trying to assist this poverty inflicted community, BTC started a weekly outreach project at Ditshego House of Laughter. One of the aims of the project is to screen all children in the Mooiplaats community, under the age of three years, for developmental delays and to provide therapy if necessary.
In our efforts to continuously evaluate our services, we realised that by only focusing on the children, we were neglecting a vast majority of the population. We then included the training of mothers, teachers at the preschool as well as the community healthcare workers – with the aim of reaching into the community. We facilitated the training of mothers, teachers and healthcare workers and educated them on typical development patterns, the importance of play and literacy.
We did this by facilitating workshops on toy making as well as by demonstration. The mothers, teachers and healthcare workers were included in the problem-solving discussions, and their opinions encouraged so that effective learning could take place. By continuing to train each new parent that we see, we are anticipating that they will pass on the information to the community and will focus the attention on the importance of investing in the development of children.
TSHWANE PLACE OF SAFETY
Tshwane Place of Safety addresses the growing need for the dedicated care of babies and toddlers in distress. The objectives of Tshwane Haven are:
- To provide a support structure to Tshwane Place of Safety Association with regards to sick and vulnerable children.
- To provide a secure home environment for children with medical problems.
- To provide specialist care to babies and toddlers with medical problems.
- To liaise with doctors, clinics and specialists on specific problems of micro-premature babies, babies and toddlers placed at the Haven.
- To provide an overnight shelter facility for the SAPS until they can place the children in another place of safety.
Our Therapists visit the Tshwane Place of Safety on a weekly basis. The aim of these visits is the identification of any developmental delays and to offer therapy to those babies in need of early intervention therapy. Our therapists also offer training and guidance to the caregivers.