Winter Workshops – A Green Experience


On 3, 4 & 5 July CBN held a workshop with Enlighten Education Trust at their premises in Hermanus. We had a high attendance level with around 22 on the first day, 26 on the second day – and about forty on the third day! Recruits kept coming through from the wonderful Alex Bury Library – and it is always hard to turn anyone away. (Many of the additional children on the third day were younger children who had heard about the workshop through word-of-mouth, and they had a special story and biscuits before being sent home early).


We displayed a selection of books on green themes ranging from early readers to coffee table books that the children read with interest and enthusiasm throughout the workshop when there were quiet moments. We were also lucky enough to have environmentalist Pinky Ngewu, project manager at Dyer Island Environmental Trust, who spoke to the children about environmental issues, particularly the need to conserve water.


The workshop started at 10.00 on Monday 3rd – with hot chocolate and muffins at 9.45 for the children. We always have a written-down programme, but adapt it almost immediately to suit the children who have taken the trouble to take forms home for permission to attend from their carers. Sometimes activities spread out because they are being enjoyed so much – or contract if that particular group does not find it so interesting. Because we don’t work with school classes, our groups could tend towards the younger end (Grade 4) or towards older children (Grade 7). In this case – unusually – we stuck more or less to schedule.

Blaq Pearl – hip-hop musician, songwriter, published poet and actress
Primrose Mrwebi – poet and literacy activist
Nyasha – a young new member of the CBN team who assisted with the writing activities most enthusiastically.
Britney-Semone Van Rooyen, Janine’s niece who came as a spectator and stayed as a volunteer!
Pinky Ngewu from Dyer Island Conservation Trust

CBN Stalwarts were Lesley Beake, who managed the workshop and Chantel Oosthuysen, who ably assisted with admin and took an active part in the first two days.

PROGRAMME (first two mornings similar)

10.00 Introduction of facilitators and what CBN does – Lesley
10.15 Warm up and introductions of children (Janine)
10.45 Primrose and Nash with a reading activity
11.15 Janine with writing the themed workshop song – Our Beautiful World – with Nash to assist and perform.

Between every activity is a Books-and Stories session, often with Lesley, featuring a selection of texts, both non-fiction and fiction.

Divide into 3 groups. Facilitators spread out to help the groups Britney and Nash assisted with the reading game.

• Group 1 Art activity with book theme
• Group 2 Reading Game
• Group 3 Writing activity
Quiet reading for those who finish early


1.15 Lunch

1.45 Visit from a green hero or heroes

2.30 Perform song (vigorously!)

3.00 Home for children.

This was the pattern for both days. On the third day (July 5th) Lesley facilitated more reading activities. No lunch on third day, but Enlighten Trust provided snacks.

We had several visitors coming to see what we do, including a representative of Rotary Hermanus.

Thanks are due to:

Enlighten Education Trust for their staunch support and for handling the registration of the children. It is always a pleasure to work with them.

Gratitude particularly to:
Magriet Peter – Trust Manager
Elaine Davie – Fund Manager (and great reader to children!)
Elmine Boonzaier – librarian
For more information please visit:

Dyer Island Environmental Trust
For lending us the able Pinkie Ngewu who gave an inspirational talk about conserving our resources, particularly of water in this time of climate change and drought in the Cape.
For more information visit:

Catering never got this good!
We would like to thank Nini Stevens in Stanford for her amazing generosity in funding, cooking, delivering, serving and enjoying lovely lunches with the children. (A healthy pasta dish on Monday and chicken pie on Tuesday, with delicious muffins, cookies and cakes before and after the workshop days). A volunteer is worth a thousand pressed women! Thank you most sincerely.

Did we achieve our goals?

Our goal is always primarily to encourage the art, practice and act of reading. Along the way, we hope to open some doors into other worlds – and, most of all, to demonstrate how easy it is to step through into them in books. This can be done with story as a lead-in, but non-fiction appeals very much to the 10-12 age-group we work with. Backing this up with art and craft activities, writing and imagining, music and songwriting reinforces the idea that reading is fun – reading is cool. We see this happening in the change in attitudes during workshops – and in the enthusiasm with which the books are taken up.

We hope, and trust, we did make a difference.

Image: Blaq Pearl rousing the children to song

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