A morning of fun and empathy to learn from one another

Tiisetso Ranamane playing Lanset with a teacher from New Hope School.

Pupils from Constantia Park Primary and Glenstantia Primary spent a Monday morning playing fun games with the special students of New Hope School, and learnt a valuable lesson – empathy for the disabled.

The day was organised by the incredible young Alpha Shakers-team. The Alpha Shakers consist of six, sixth graders from Constantia Park Primary, who are competing in the Lego Robotics World Festival Championship from 22-25 April in Missouri in the USA.

As part of their entry into the South African leg of the Lego robotics tournament, the First Lego League, the team had originally invited the children from New Hope School to their own school to help them learn about the struggles of peoples with disabilities, but to also show their strength in overcoming those obstacles.

The project was part of the First Lego League’s requirements for competing teams to have a positive influence on their communities. It was so successful that it spilled over to Glenstantia Primary, culminating in the morning’s events.

During the morning’s fun, learners from all three schools competed in some of the games the children from New Hope enjoy playing most, notably Boccia and a wheelchair obstacle race. Boccia is similar to bowls, and contestants are split into two teams, given either red or blue balls and aim for a soft white ball. The team that has the most coloured balls close to the white ball is the winning team. Two of the pupils from New Hope, Leolynn Linton and Eugene Fourie are set to compete in the South African championships.

“We really have a fantastic team of therapists working with the children at New Hope school. They helped the kids develop, and help them compete. This contributes to making them feel like they are just normal children playing a game,” said Hannie Muller, head of New Hope School.

“For us, today was all about teaching children at the school about people with disabilities and helping them learn to have empathy, and not sympathy with the disabled children,” said Nerine Sutherland, mother of two of the Alpha Shakers and one of the organisers of the event.”

The day gave children from all walks of life the opportunity to make friends, and learn more about each other.

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Kristian Meijer

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