Fourteen families, six from the Imizamo Yethu and eight from Hangberg will graduate this Saturday from a family-strengthening programme run by the City at Sentinel Primary School.
Facilitator Raymein Classens said the families chosen for the programme had to have children aged 6 to 11 and were not necessarily families at risk and follow an eight-week programme.
The programme’s aims included improving parent-child attachment and parenting skills; reducing problem behaviours; and decreasing intention to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
The programme also showed the families how to enjoy an affordable outing and spend quality time together.
Mr Classens said that part of the programme took place at Tygerberg Nature Reserve where the families hiked, played games and had a picnic.
One of the parents, Steven Freister, said parenting did not come with a manual and every day presented new challenges, but the programme had helped them cope with those.
“I’ve learnt from my parents. Now we’ve learnt differently. Instead of the old ways of punishment, we dig deeper and speak to the children. This has strengthened our family, and the children feel better for having more attention.”
Mr Freister attended the programme with his wife, Krystal, and children, Phillip, 11, Ray, 8, and Esther, 4. Phillip said he had enjoyed the programme and wished it could go on longer.
Nokulunga Matasimba who attended with Someleze, 12 and Asiphile, 8, said she also appreciated learning how to take the shouting and screaming out of her parenting.
Loyiso Skoti said her family had learnt to appreciate what they have. Since the outing to the nature reserve she has been taking her children, Sonmaliz, 11, and Isipi, 7, for swimming lessons.
“Being in nature was so different to our surroundings. Come weekends, there is music playing loudly, we all live on top of one another.”
Ms Skoti said the group had become very close and now shared things on the WhatsApp group they had formed.
Kade Simons, 9, said he had enjoyed visiting the nature reserve and he was now spending more time with his father.
Mary-Anne Brink lost her son at sea three years ago. He would have turned 21 on April 19. His body was never recovered, and Ms Brink said she had battled to come to terms with the loss and had sidelined her daughter, Leandri, 11, as a result.
“The group has made me stronger, and taught me to cope with my anger. If my daughter does something I don’t like I can turn away. It’s taught me to build relationships. Now I speak to my brothers and cousins.”
Ashely Bailey, 60, is grandmother and guardian to Hjayrun, 8. “Our generation was more strict, but we can’t be that way nowadays. I’ve learnt from the course and other parents, and now we have a stable life with no more screaming. I bring my age down to her and we play. I’ve also learnt to give her chores and rewards. I would recommend this programme to all parents. But so few take it up, instead they don’t know where their children are and what they’re up to,” said Ms Bailey.
Sentinel Primary principal Claudine Obermeyer said children needed love and someone who believed in them, but it was not possible for teachers to provide that when some classes had 40 children in them.
“One child was in the office every day before the programme, now I haven’t seen the child since it started,” she said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said it was a pity that many of the families most in need of such a programme did not volunteer for it. “But even if one family benefits, I believe the programme is worthwhile.”
Families interested in taking part in the next programme can contact Raymein.Classens@capetown.gov.za.