Cape Town Project Centre Context

The most readily available and often most applicable resource for background information was past Cape Town projects. Sizakuyenza’s multifaceted needs required the use of a wide variety of past insights to fulfill all of the sponsor’s expectations. Some consistent themes through each of the past projects came together to promote two overlying motifs: empowerment through therapeutic treatment and empowerment through facility upgrades. The following links will detail the applicable knowledge gained from past Cape Town Project Centre teams.

Evaluating Past Techniques in Promoting Early Childhood Development

The Sizakuyenza Safe House houses many children who have mothers that have been abused or have been abused themselves. The organization’s mission includes helping these children develop into healthy young adults by advancing their ability to think critically.

Most people hear phrases such as “advancement in critical thinking” and immediately think of a classroom setting. In 2010 a team from WPI working on their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) working on an Early Childhood Development (ECD) project in Monwabisi Park. In their assessment of the area they found only eight small early education buildings, known as crèches, serving over 2,700 children in the area (Barbour, Bell, Gottshall, & Sparrell, 2010). Substandard regulations for the crèches coupled with poor funding left many children with little or no education. The ECD team determined having more supplemental education facilities, including informal areas which can support a few children at a time, would lessen the strain on the crèches. As the Safe House Team is dealing with a small community they determined that a supplemental facility like those the 2010 ECD team envisioned could be a good fit for their needs and be implemented within the Safe House walls. The 2010 ECD team’s system included an outreach program designed to help families place their children in crèches. The Safe House team thought that a similar outreach program could be beneficial to their project. This entailed reaching out to those women who had already left the safe house in order to increase the chances of their children continuing education.

While the classroom can provide an excellent place for learning, attendance can be an issue. A less conventional resource for early childhood development is the playground, which has a definite voluntary attraction from children of all ages. Another WPI team, the 2013 Maitland Garden Village Park Redevelopment team conducted research to determine the best way to intertwine early childhood development into the construction of a play park (Goddard, Collins, Bahtiarian, & Connors, 2013). With the addition of arches and uneven stepping-stones, the group established entryways for the children to new, previously unexplored areas, maximizing the available space. The team found challenging obstacles could give children a strong affirmation and sense of accomplishment, allowing them to regain a healthy level of confidence. Utilizing these research findings, the Safe House team went into their project with the goal to implement similar structures at the Safe House that will ideally produce the same results.

The children may be able to achieve a more holistic development with the combination of both recreational and formal education. The 2013 ECD team studied two models of childhood development. Their goal was to determine the best method to deliver knowledge and skills to the children who attended the local crèches. The first model, centre-based education, functioned around formal communities and structured curriculum. The second, non-centre based education, promoted community involvement and less structure. The playground would provide an education without structure while allowing the children to develop mentally through problem solving, such as balancing on the balance beam or completing the monkey bars. This design of early childhood development encouraged the community to collaborate with the crèche, or school, so that community members could contribute their personal skills and assets to the education of children. The 2013 team proposed the best option was a combination with elements from each model (Deraney, Nicosia, Waddell, & Zhang, 2013). In order to incorporate both aspects into their design, the Safe house team got input from Safe House residents and helped to develop a curriculum for the crèche which would give the children the kids the best elements from each model. It was beneficial for the curriculum to revolve around building a positive outlook on learning new things and create an environment where kids can interact with each other in a socially responsible setting.

Investigating the Benefits of Recreation

Residents who are on a long-term stay in the Safe House reported a trapped feeling from being inside for a great deal of time (Haj-Yahia & Cohen, 2008). Maintaining some sort of recreational opportunity for the women and children was a necessity. Having a passive recreational space for the women and an active recreational space for the children was a consideration in our planning.

One way to promote recreation, especially with the children, was fixing their existing playground. The most important function of a playground is to keep children playful and active. The MGV Park Redevelopment team found frequently used playgrounds get community support in the implementation and upkeep (Haj-Yahia & Cohen, 2008). To ensure this, the team pursued the children’s imaginative ideas for improving the park. The team asked children of many different ages, as the facilities were likely to draw a large age range. The younger children provided a colourful and appealing aspect while the older children expressed their desire for slides and other exciting structures. It was important for them to incorporate a compromise of these by creating brightly coloured large structures that would attract the younger kids while still entertaining the older. With all of their findings, they created a guide for park options ranging from seating areas to installing physical obstacles. This information can be utilized as a valuable reference for all recreation areas. The Safe House playground is open to any children who seek a place to play after school. The playground brings in a wide variety of age groups as a result. It is important to keep all age groups in mind while working on the features. Asking children who visit the Safe House after school what they would like to see should provide good insight as to what themes and structures will be most popular. A frequently used playground contributes greatly to childhood development, making it a valuable resource.

Aside from active and unstructured learning, the addition of a crèche provided a more passive form of recreation. The 2010 ECD team reached a variety of conclusions relating to recreational stimulus. Providing children with toys, books, daily programs such as naptime, and an early introduction to the English language are only some of the benefits a crèche might offer (Barbour, Bell, Gottshall, & Sparrell, 2010). The crèche is also a good outlet for some of the women who may be interested in learning how to educate children. One of the main challenges facing crèches across the country is a lack of trained staff (Barbour, Bell, Gottshall, & Sparrell, 2010). It was important to realize that the crèche offers opportunities for both the women and the children.

Assessing Therapeutic Practices of Gardening

Gardening can be an important instrument in the recovery of all victims. According to the 2009 Mainland Village Park Gardening team, gardening can relieve stress, benefit creative output, and improve cognition (Madden, Pitts, Roffo, & Stevens, 2009). While their project focused more on the financial benefit of gardening, something highly important to the Safe House team as well, this project will aim to focus more on the intangible outcomes that stem from the gardening program. The Safe House is equipped with a good sized vegetable garden of six separate beds that was constructed by Abalimi, the parent organization of Harvest of Hope (“Abalimi Bezekhaya,” 2013). The garden is run by Mameh Lani, an organization which helps women get involved in gardening to help the provide food for themselves. The women in the safe house do not currently have a lot of participation in the garden thus the Safe House team plans to incorporate the women into the design process of the garden in order to make the garden truly theirs. Another benefit of the garden program stems from the fact that gardening can also allow people to be able to better socialize and connect with others (Madden, Pitts, Roffo, & Stevens, 2009). A social benefit, particularly in this situation, was the building of community and social ties, something that is always beneficial to any stage of recovery.