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Canoeing is currently our main sport in the program. The group competes on flat water and river races in the Western Cape and sometimes in other provinces across the country.
The aim is to enable the children to become competitive paddlers but this is not a requirement. There are other goals of the program besides sport performance. Through canoeing, the students are exposed to some of the many benefits of sport such as:
- Increased self-confidence;
- Improved self-discipline;
- Enhanced health and fitness;
- Constructive use of free time;
- Improved leadership; and
- Improved inter-personal skills.
In summer we have swimming lessons once a week. Not only is swimming a necessity for canoeists but it is also a different form of training which brings variation within the program.
We also run in the mountains in Stellenbosch for additional training. This is good training for the group and it also gives them an outing.
We do some strength work in our clubhouse for additional training including basic exercises strengthening the same muscles needed for canoeing such as push-ups, pull-ups and a combination of core muscle activities.
Most of the younger children in the program are struggling in school. Our aim is for them to gain a matriculation certification and possibly continue further towards a tertiary education. We have been assisting with homework for some of the children ourselves but ultimately our aim is to have regular tutors available assisting the children with study methods and exam preparation. There are a few students in the program who have dropped out of school and are unemployed. We have recently employed some of these students as canoeing coaches and maintenance workers to keep the clubhouse and canoeing equipment in order. We are trying to equip these students with skills that will make them more employable so that they can eventually help provide for their families.
Part of our objectives is to teach our students how to blend in with society and feel accepted. We therefore engage them in numerous activities, which are part and parcel of everyday society. This includes activities such as beach outings, hiking excursions, picnics, watching big sport events on television and celebrating each other’s birthdays.
Nutrition is extremely important for growing children and those involved in sport. We provide the children with enough food during races and we also give them something small after training. Our aim is to provide a monthly food parcel to each family involved in the program as they often cannot provide this for themselves.
Through the involvement in sport, preparing for races and putting in many hours of training the students are taught valuable life skills in sport which can be used in other areas of life. They are learning lessons of hard work, dedication, respect for others and commitment. These values can be used in other areas of life such as the school, or work environment and among family and friends.
Two of the older students have been employed as coaches in the program. They have also attended first-aid courses, coaching courses and water safety courses This gives them a small income and work experience.
Three of the older students in the program have been employed as the maintenance team. They keep the clubhouse, outside area and garden in good condition. They are also responsible for fixing canoes. This gives them an income and work experience.
Other activities that we are involved in which improve the skills of the students include getting them towards gaining a driver’s license. In the future we would like them to further their education by enrolling them in courses.