There was joy and the sense of achievement as 37 pupils from Sivuyiseni Primary School graduated from a Waves for Change programme on Tuesday morning.
The certification ceremony coincided with the school’s reopening after the winter school holiday and the participating pupils were paraded in front of the whole school.
Waves for Change (W4C) provides a child-friendly mental health service to vulnerable and differently-abled young people living in unstable communities.
Through connections to safe spaces, caring mentors, and a 12-month weekly surf therapy curriculum, the project skills children to cope with stress, regulate behaviour, build healing relationships, and make positive life choices.
Waves for Change mentor Luxolo Konco said the Sivuyile Primary graduation was the first one, and over the next four weeks they will be visiting Chuma, Umtha we Langa and Ludwe Ngamlana primary schools where they will hand over 68 certificates in total. He said he was gratified to see the progress all the pupils had made.
“Teachers informed us that they noticed great behavioural change in the children that we train. What is also nice is that our trainees are sharing their learnings with other children,” he said.
Teacher Bongani Gali agreed, pointing out that the children had become “confident and sharper without being boastful”.
“They have grasped the ethos of team work and are really infecting the whole school with enthusiasm,” said Mr Gali.
Principal Themba Mbathana hailed the programme as a perfect intervention for township schools. “Our society needs programmes like this one. It instils hope in children, giving them belief that they can achieve in life,” said Mr Mbathana.
Grade 5 pupil Avethandwa Madolo said she wanted to share what she had learned with other children. “Before I went there I could not swim and now I am swimming better. I used to be scared of water and now I know how to be safe in there,” she said.
Ngcali Maqina said the programme taught him how to help and support those in need.
“At times our friends cannot do things. Instead of laughing at them we must help them,” he said.
Chulumanco Sidina said she could now communicate better with other children.”I learnt respecting others make them respect you too,” she said.
The programme received a R1.58 million donation from Agence Francaise de Developement (AFD) early in the year.
Bertrand Walckenaer, deputy chief executive officer of AFD and Timothy Robert Conibear, founder and director of Waves for Change, signed the grant which will enable the organisation to extend its reach.
Waves for Change currently employs 50 coaches, many of whom are former beneficiaries of the programme and are based in Masiphumelele, Monwabisi, Lavender Hill, Port Elizabeth and East London.