by Nozizwe Ginindza
As Part of our Children’s Right’s Programs, St Joseph’s Boarding House practices and promotes Child Participation. As an Organisation, we believe that Child Participation is a principle and a very strong tool that allows us to listen to children, allows them the right to communicate and express themselves freely, and to participate in decision making processes that impact on the quality of their lives. This year 2018, SJBH embarked on the second annual recreational trip, which is the tool with which we practice and facilitate child participation in an active way.
The children came together, through representation by their child led entertainment committee and decided this year’s theme for the trip. To facilitate child participation, it is imperative that the children understand the responsibility that comes with decision making, so, the children were tasked with the responsibility to not only choose their destination, and activities for the day, but they were encouraged to take it one step further and actually participate in the planning and execution of the finer details.
The children were given a restricted budget and challenged to plan the entire excursion within those financial restrictions as a way to teach them the elementary principles of budgeting and working within limited resources. To stretch the penny. Their wish was to have a braai when they arrived, so it was also part of their responsibility to design the menu, make a lists of all that would be required, prepare the meat, and prepack all food items beforehand, and actually braai their own food at the location.
The care-giving staff was on hand to supervise and offer guidance and support, but the children were the leaders. They were divided into smaller subcommittees e.g., chefs, servers, and the no littering hygiene and cleanliness committee whose role was to ensure that we left the park as clean as we had found it. To facilitate full participation and inclusion, each committee featured a healthy balance of abled and disabled children, who were all encouraged to play different roles depending on their different abilities.
SJBH believes that no matter the child’s disability, when given an opportunity to engage themselves in thought, decision making and presented with the responsibility of taking action and executing even the smallest of tasks, we are building the children’s characters in a positive way that will allow them to grow into assertive, responsible adults that can lead productive and independent lives and positively contribute to their communities and society at large in the future.