Imagine a sea of smiling, laughing children barreling towards you as you hear the ring of the school bell echo across the courtyard. “Back to class guys!”, you shuttle them along and into line. Today we were invited by the Laureus Project to visit the Welcome Primary School for their school day. It was a day of play, games, sport, thoughtful reflection and deep conversations. I think Sophia and I speak for all of the other Young Explorers, even the ones originally from or currently residing in South Africa, that this was one of the most educational school days we have ever had in our lives. The insights that we garnered from talking with the first to sixth graders about their favorite hobbies, difficult subjects in school, and why their father was never home, were profound and perspective-shifting.
Thanks to the hard work and organization of the Laureus Project, the children spend a large part of their free time exercising. You would be impressed by the diversity of activities! We joined in for the first part of the day in skipping rope, playing football (I was bested by speedy children half my size), cricket and jumping/running/skipping/clapping games of all kinds. ‘SPORT FOR GOOD’ were the words on the T-shirts of the Laureus participants. We could witness first hand how sport indeed can change people’s lives, bring them together and build up their confidence.
We broke up into smaller groups with a few Young Explorers for a group of children and discussed topics such as what they think happens to the plastic bag of chips they threw away, are they afraid of sharks and what does a Russian polar bear look like. The second half of the day was spent planting trees in the backyard field of the school. We used the opportunity to discuss why deforestation is an issue and how it affects our entire biome and the negative effects trickle down to affect the ocean environment. The day finished up by visiting an after school program for the kids, where coaches teach them how to box, play basketball and skip rope. Full of new experiences and reflections, we set off home while discussing the enriching day we had. We were all very impressed with the Laureus project, their dedicated team leaders and the huge difference that one can make locally, if they put their heart into something they believe in.