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Stanford Heroes Workshop April 22

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Our theme for the next three months will be Local Heroes and we got off to a heroic start on Saturday where we introduced the idea of reading heroes and the fact that – whatever kind of hero you want to be – you have to read.

The team was a large one. We were very lucky to have, as a volunteer, occupational therapist Regina Broenner of Stanford Creative Works firing the children up. We worked with her in December and hope to be able to do so more in the future Regina started with a beautifully designed set of exercises that began with breathing and culminated in individual pinch-pots by way of some interesting moving and shaking (and balloons) along the way.

In the books section, Lesley was easily outflanked by knowledgeable junior soccer fans, who were able to inform her not only precisely what the people in the pictures were doing, but what national team they were in, what their names were and what position they played. But the point was made that we read pictures and then we read the words under the pictures (in the event of not knowing it all already), and then we grow into more and more knowledge. (The book concerned was the inspirational: A Beautiful Game that had the boys inching forward to see more.This book will feature again in hero workshops as it is about socccer stars, many of whom came from humble backgrounds. It is by Tom Watt with foreword by David Beckham and Arsenne Wenger.)

Shane Overmeyer, eight times SA table tennis champion gave a truly inspirational talk – and demonstration of just how well it is possible to control a small ball with a small paddle. Shane had the children sitting up and taking notice with the story of his childhood and then dedication as a young man. ‘You have to work!’ He told them just how hard – and long – he had to train before becoming national champion and representing South Africa overseas. He then showed them some suspiciously easy-looking tricks with a bat and a ball that they found impossible to copy. There was a wonderful sense of movement and interest among the children. ‘Sport and Music and Dancing,’ Shane emphasised. That’s how to interest children in the townships in reading.

When Blaq Pearl took over after lunch. The children had to come up with their own ideas about heroes. Only she could do this as well! They created rhythm and poetry and sang together with improvised drumming. ‘I am a hero! I am a hero!’ It is always inspirational to watch her work up the words and create the song. It’s not easy, especially with shy children, as these were, but she gets it every time.

The new generation was represented by sixteen year-old Nyasha Makwarimba (Nash), who gave an impassioned talk about how books became an emotional support - and then love - in her life, followed by brilliant a cappella performance.

We finished with Nash singing ‘You’ll miss me when I’m gone’ from the film Pitch Perfect – which was coincidentally featured in the first workshop we ever did in Stanford. Then everyone got together for a last couple of choruses of ‘I’m a Hero!’

They are …

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Thank you to all concerned:
This workshop was funded by a donation from Pick n Pay and we would like to say thank you very much. The children really enjoyed themselves and the theme is now well established for future reading workshops. (More actual reading in the next ones.)

Most grateful thanks to all who worked so hard to make this workshop a success. Anne Mckeag stood by for any eventuality. Andrew Herriot was ready to play the piano if accompaniment was needed. Chantel Oosthuysen looked after endless detail and manned the snacks and fruit juice womanfully. Elizabeth toiled over what seemed like hundreds of sandwiches. Easter eggs, balloons and pinch-pots went home afterwards. We had fun.