Volunteers needed to help children learn

Nina Todd and Sharleen Haupt at the Capricorn centre.

The LifeMatters non-profit organisation started a literacy and numeracy intervention programme at Westlake Primary School 13 years ago for children who struggle to keep up with their peers.

LifeMatters collaborates with the Shine Centre, an NGO that also promotes literacy programmes in schools, to help the children who are struggling.

Sharleen Haupt, literacy project manager, said often teachers are not able to provide one-on-one attention to pupils. The foundation changes this by having volunteers assist these at risk children by spending individual time with them.

Once children have been identified as having learning disabilities or struggling to cope, the organisation takes them out of their classrooms for an hour twice a week and assists them to read and do numeracy at their own pace.

They also provide counselling, life skills, a teenage awareness programme and a mentoring programme.

The project is currently run at Lourier, Sweet Valley, Steenberg, Westlake and Sullivan primary schools.

Later this month the organisation will open a centre at Capricorn Primary School so they are desperately in search of more volunteers to assist not only at the new centre but also at the other centres at the other primary schools.

Ms Haupt said the organisation wanted to expand to Capricorn because of the need for literacy strengthening in Grades 2 and 3.

“Not all the children need assistance but it’s mostly those who have problems at home and whose circumstances haven’t been very conducive to get them ready for literacy.

“We try to assist them to overcome difficulties reading or writing but we need volunteers,” said Ms Haupt.

Nina Todd got involved with LifeMatters a year ago as a volunteer and is now a staff member.

“I wanted to get involved in a project where I could be involved with kids after working in the mining industry as a scientist. I feel so privileged and honoured to work with these children. I love coming to spend time with them and building relationships with them. It is so fulfilling,” said Ms Todd.

“If people realise that if they come for one morning a week they could genuinely help a child who is not going to get that from home.

“Many people are privileged and take their children to a psychologist or other practitioners when there’s a problem and we have the resources to help them. That doesn’t happen for these children and they need a leg up and we’re able to give them that. Volunteers have the power to make a difference to children who would probably drop out if they don’t get early intervention.

“Together we’d be able to give these kids a fighting chance,” said Ms Haupt. Volunteers can sign up for a day and a time to help out.

For more information or to volunteer contact the LifeMatters foundation on 021 712 0383 or literacy@lifemattersfoundation.org