Our Celebrating Partners Project aims to recognise and highlight the work that is done by our implementing partners. We look at how book-sharing has benefited them as an organisation and benefited the families they work with. Today we celebrate our partnership with The Seven Passes Initiative.

“Global research — including in Khayelitsha — has found a link between book sharing with young children and a reduced likelihood of violence later in their lives. In South Africa, where violence rates are high and resources are few, cheap and easy interventions for parents that directly affect the violence risk factors of their young children are critical.” How can we build a less violent South Africa? Throw the book at it – Kaathima Ebrahim

What is the Seven Passes Initiative?

In 2008, The Seven Passes Initiative was started as a violence prevention programme in the rural areas of George. Thirteen years have since passed and the organisation offers three types of programmes to their community members. The programme categories include; after school education and life skills, youth development and early childhood development and positive parenting. They are in the process of designing a fourth programme.

Their vision is for a safe society in which all people – adults and children – are able to realise their full potential and are able to overcome poverty and inequality.

Why book-sharing?

While conducting a research project with ISS (The Institute for Security Studies) and UCT (University of Cape Town), The Seven Passes Initiative learned that Mikhulu’s book-sharing programme could add value to what they were looking to achieve. ”[We wanted] to see if we implement the four PLH (Parenting for Lifelong Health) programmes and do a social activation process, if a whole community’s parenting style could change from a negative style, to a softer, more positive style,” explains Wilmi Dippenaar, director of The Seven Passes Initiative.

Wilmi goes on to stress the importance of children being school ready and for them to have better connections with their primary caregiver/s. Spending more time together would allow for the secure attachment to form and book-sharing is a programme that is easy to train both parents and facilitators to do. “Ordinary parents can implement the programme with their children.”

Puseletso Mofokeng, Mikhulu’s Training Coordinator, tells us how eight facilitators were trained to implement the book-sharing programme within George’s rural communities. Two of the facilitators are now coaches and will soon be able to train more facilitators in the area.

The power of a picture book

Roslynn Wehr-Damons is one of the coaches that has been delivering the programme for a number of years. In her implementation she has seen a grandmother who is unable to read and write, feel empowered by book-sharing with her granddaughter. She has seen a two year old boy’s speaking abilities and vocabulary improve. “I saw the direct impact that the programme had.” Roslynn is motivated and excited by the actual implementation of the book-sharing programme.

Wilmi echoes Roslynn’s excitement around the programme. “What’s important is the effect that the programme has on parents and children. We can definitely see how relationships between parents and children have changed. And we’ve got the research to prove that. We’ve got so many wonderful success stories of children who are school ready, whose vocabulary has improved and who can make connections between the book and their own real life.”

Book-sharing has introduced the communities that The Seven Passes Initiative works with, to new ways of spending quality time together.

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Contact Info

Early Learning Centre, Athlone, Cape Town, 7764

Phone: +27 72 295 5959

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