Masikhule is an NPO based in the Helderberg area of the Western Cape that trains women (and men) from marginalised communities to be Early Childhood Development (ECD) educators. Founded in 2005 by an Occupational Therapist (OT), Léanne Keet, Masikhule’s training has developed over the years to integrate OT into their Early Learning Programs (ELPs).
This is a short story about B – a young 4-year-old boy who was brought to Rise and Shine Educare Centre, a community-based ECD Centre in Asanda Village in the Strand area, at the beginning of 2023 because his mother wanted him to learn to talk. B joined educator Anezwa Xotyeni’s class but was very quiet and withdrawn.
Anezwa is one of the ECD educators who has attended Masikhule’s ELP training and thus was immediately aware that B had serious developmental delays in many areas.
B had poor expressive language, the only word he was able to say was ‘mama’. He had poor gross motor skills, found it difficult to cut, draw and colour-in and he struggled to identify colours, shapes, and numbers. Anezwa, being passionate about children, highlighted this to the Masikhule OT who was mentoring her twice a month and made sure B was included in the monthly group OT sessions Masikhule was providing at Rise and Shine Educare.
What an amazing turn-around was experienced during the year! After his first screening in February 2023, B was rescreened in October 2023 and the results have been incredible – highlighting the importance of purposeful play and the value of an integrated approach to learning, which includes occupational therapy.
Through empowering Anezwa, his ECD educator, and using her link with B’s parents to ensure a team approach, they have seen B developing in leaps and bounds. His balance and coordination, his fine motor skills - pencil control and drawing skills in particular - and learning foundations are now developing as expected for his age level. As his general skills and language improve, so has his self-confidence and self-belief. He loves to take part in play and learning activities and is now happily part of his peer group.
The images below show B’s progress in his drawing skills and copying shapes, an important element of Masikhule’s annual screening:
This comment from the OT says it all: "At the beginning of the year, B had very poor expressive language or was possibly mute. He had low self-confidence and struggled to complete most tasks, whether it be fine motor, gross motor or basic concepts activities. He scored very poorly in the screening assessment completed in February 2023 which showed his development to be way below the expected level for his age."
Fast-forward to October 2023, he is now able to name and identify his colours, numbers and shapes. His gross and fine motor skills have shown a great improvement and his confidence to speak and learn is increasing on a daily basis. Anezwa has played a vital role in the child’s development, she has been consistently applying what has been taught during the training and welcomed the monthly mentorship from Masikhule. It has been wonderful and inspiring to watch the growth and development of this child.
Here's to B’s promising future and to those who came together to help him find his voice and his confidence!
For more information about the organisation, please see our website: masikhule.org/