When friends support each other, it helps to listen.

A story of hope and friendship

Lindiwe* lives in Sheba, close to a railroad siding located in the Ehlanzeni District of Mpumalanga. Lindiwe lives with her parents and her two older siblings. She was very excited to start her first day at the playgroup at the start of 2018, when she was only three years old. Lindiwe was not a very shy child. Through play, Lindiwe quickly learnt how to interact and socialise with other children, and further interactions at her regular playgroup sessions helped her develop good listening skills.

Lindiwe would listen ever so attentively during her favourite playgroup activity, Story Time. Her playgroup facilitator and teacher, Phumzile would read in an exaggerated manner, making the characters in the story come alive. Phumzile also noticed how Lindiwe loved to take the lead by reciting the nursery rhymes she had learnt in class; developing her auditory memory and her use of language.

Lindiwe met her close friend Ayanda* at the playgroup. Initially, Ayanda was very shy. She did not converse as much as Lindiwe. Ayanda was the only child in her family and she was so excited to attend a playgroup where she’d have the opportunity to play with her new friend Lindiwe.

After a few months of attending playgroup sessions our playgroup facilitator, Phumzile noticed that Ayanda found it difficult adapting to the class routine. Phumzile referred Ayanda to our Cotlands Sister, Vinolia, who arranged a meeting with the family to discuss the teacher’s concerns. Ayanda was referred to an audiologist at a nearby hospital. The audiologist identified that Ayanda suffered from auditory processing disorder, a problem with the way her ears and brain processed and understood sound. With the right interventions and support from Sister Vinolia and the audiologist, Ayanda improved her listening ability in the classroom and in noisy environments, like on the playground. Over time Ayanda’s listening ability returned to normal.

During these interventions, Lindiwe’s friendship proved to be very beneficial to Ayanda. Lindiwe helped Ayanda gain the confidence to communicate and helped strengthen her listening skills. Lindiwe always played with Ayanda on the playground and when things got a little too noisy, the two friends would move to a quieter space. Afterwards, Ayanda was much calmer and could hear and understand what her friend and teacher was saying.

Returning from the COVID-19 closure, teacher Phumzile was delighted to see a more communicative Ayanda. She was proud to see how this bashful, little girl had blossomed into a confident little person and how she had adapted to her new school routine.

Both Ayanda and Lindiwe were happy to see each other again after a long six-month break away.

One underestimates the positive developmental influence that children have on one another. Lindiwe helped Ayanda gain more confidence to develop her social and emotional skills. In turn, Lindiwe learned about empathy and how to help her friend Ayanda overcome her challenges. A wonderful lesson for our little ones to learn so early on in life – how good friends support each other.

So please send your loving gift today; and let’s ignite more children’s potential through play this holiday season!

*We’ve changed Ayanda and Lindiwe’s names to protect their identity.

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