Cynthia Pelman, who joined Speech & Language Therapy in Practice recently following several years working abroad, says the Wordworks charity in South Africa is "continuing to do wonderful work which I am a bit sad not to be part of any more."
The three main strands of Wordworks are:
- supporting early literacy and language development through training volunteers, teaching assistants, library staff and community workers
- empowering parents to support learning in the home, especially when they may not have had the benefit of educational opportunities themselves. This is the legacy for many families in South Africa from the apartheid years. (This photo includes a dad who had never held a pen or pencil before.)
- addressing the psychosocial needs of children in disadvantaged communities – in other words, "doing hope".
It is interesting to note that the project doesn't just value learning but recognises the strong, consistent, supportive relationships forged with volunteers are key to the success of the literacy program. The use of Hero Books alongside the literacy work aims to foster resilience, with the emphasis on "how they cope with difficulties, what brings them joy and uplifts them, what they do to get the support they need to make the best of their lives". Therapists who wish to run programs for parents and volunteers should have a look at the Wordworks' freely available resources.
Cynthia says that, thanks to previous generosity on the part of donors, the charity has more than enough books, but you can contact her or see the website to find out how to contribute financially. Speech and language therapists may be particularly interested in the suggestions of practical support which could make interesting projects for their clients. (For more information on project work, see Simpson, Denman & Gale's 'Walking with Dobermanns' in the Autumn and Winter 09 issues of Speech & Language Therapy in Practice.)