Students give street children a sporting chance

02 June 2002
A GROUP of street children in Claremont is benefiting from organised play and sport sessions organised by members of the Kolbe Society.

PhD student in computational chemistry Chas Simpson, who is a member of the Society's Social Awareness Committee, is responsible for the street children outreach programme and is one of several members who has extended a hand of help and friendship to the children in this way.

Simpson, who is on the UCT Judo Committee, is teaching the children the basics of this sport, incorporated into games. But other sports such as soccer, basketball and even weight lifting are being offered through the various UCT clubs. "Sport is good for their development. Often these children are undernourished and thus underdeveloped. While we're playing and having fun, we try and give them a good physical workout," Simpson added.

Sadly, the majority of these children have been abused and it takes time to build up trust. "Once we have established this base, we branch out into a buddy system to work one-on-one with them, helping with homework and so on."

The programme has been extended to include cultural activities such as drama, a programme that has taken off. "We're not social workers, we're really just trying to brighten their lives." Simpson added. "We're trying to get as many people as possible on board to assist us as it is emotionally and physically draining at times."

The Committee is hoping to link up with the Edmund Rice Camps, an international organisation that runs week-long camps for disadvantaged children, teaching them life skills and practical activities like growing vegetables.

"Social awareness projects are mostly initiated by women," Simpson reflected. "This is one way that the guys can get involved."

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