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TAKING CARE OF CHILDREN’S HEARING AND VISUAL NEEDS IS KEY TO LEARNING

The second phase of the Wellness Relay, a school remedial programme, is underway, funded by REISA solar farm, in the Gamagara Local Municipality. The programme aims to identify barriers to learning, to ensure learners can overcome them, whilst also supporting parents and educators.

One hundred and one out of 722 learners have been identified as needing additional screening at the local Audiology Surgery to confirm suspected ear conditions. The next step is to conduct a diagnosis and prescription of medical intervention, some of which may include the provision of hearing aids and or medical procedure.

Additionally, the intervention has identified thirty-nine out of 680 learners needing prescription glasses, thirteen of which are under the age of 12 years and will benefit from the Spec-Savers partnership through the ‘Kids Right to Sight’ campaign.  This campaign offers free eye tests, frames and prescription glasses.  The remaining twenty-six learners over the age of 12, will be supported by REISA with an additional eye test, frames and prescription glasses financed.

“Learning barriers negatively impact on the performance of learners in the classroom and at home.  These barriers often lead to poor academic performance, disruptions in the classroom and often negativity towards educators; peers and parents,” Veronique Isaacs, Community Operations Manager for REISA.

The Wellness Relay is as an extension of the Ubuntu Schools Project, which REISA launched in June 2017, with the appointment of a full-time Social Worker dedicated to supporting learners, educators and parents.  Through the Social Worker’s extensive engagements with learners and educators, the challenge of learning barriers was brought to light.  These barriers relate to hearing, sight, language and anxiety.

“There is often a profound emotional impact on a child whose academic performance is hampered by an auditory processing and visual motor disorder. These are two of the most important skills required for academic success, particularly for reading,” added Isaacs.

The launch of the Wellness Relay took place last year, on 18 July 2018, as a Memorial Celebration of the late, former President Nelson Mandela, known for his strong convictions about education and the future of our nation’s children.

Over seven hundred learners from schools in Dibeng, Olifantshoek and Sesheng, these include: Gamagara High School and Dibeng Primary School (Dibeng); Maikaelelo Primary School and Langberg High School (Olifantshoek); and Sishen Intermediate Mine School (Sesheng) were tested.

“We have received positive feedback from teachers who have remarked on a mind shift amongst some of the learners as well as increased school attendance and better classroom behaviour,” concluded Isaacs.

NOTE:

Wellness Relay Phase 1: Seeks to screen and evaluate all learners to confirm their learning barriers.

Wellness Relay Phase 2: Focuses on the implementation of Occupational therapy (OT) assessments and treatment. This intervention will focus on identifying learners with physical, sensory, or cognitive barriers. OT interventions can help learners improve their cognitive, physical, sensory and motor skills and enhance their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. It also assists learners to be as independent as possible in all areas of their lives

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