GEORGE NEWS - Parenting does not always come naturally to everyone. To help such parents, the Seven Passes Initiative offers a suite of parenting programmes called Parenting Lifelong Health. Wilmi Dippenaar, director of Seven Passes Initiative in Touwsranten, says they are the only institution in the world where all the programmes of this suite, covering all ages from pre-birth (36 weeks pregnancy) till when the child is 18 years old, have been implemented.
Parenting Lifelong Health is a collaborative developed by the World Health Organisation, Unicef, and a number of universities in South Africa and the UK.
"The programmes aim to prevent violence by equipping parents with the tools necessary to form close and loving bonds with their children," says Dippenaar. "Extensive research has shown that children who grow up in a non-violent environment with positive emotional engagement and cognitive stimulation are more likely to succeed at school, find stable employment and form healthy adult relationships.
"Children are also less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, to abuse alcohol and other substances, to engage in risky sexual behaviour or become involved in crime and violence."
The first programme, Thula Sana, is known in their community as Mamma Baba, and is a home visit programme. "The other three are group-based programmes where parents meet once a week for between eight and 14 weeks for the different programmes. Two programmes focus on building a strong relationship between child and caregiver and help with spending special time, setting clear house rules and how to handle difficult behaviour that does not include corporal punishment. These are known as the Sinovuyo Kids and Teens programmes," says Dippenaar.
The fourth is a book-sharing programme where the caregiver and child share a book and focus on the pictures.
"This helps the child with the improvement of vocabulary and prepares the child for school, while building a stronger relationship between child and caregiver."
Dippenaar is happy with the results. Research done in collaboration with the University of Cape Town's psychology department and the Institute of Security Studies has shown that two major factors are changing in the whole community's parenting style: parents are using less corporal punishment and they are less stressed about parenting.
Touwsranten has many success stories of families who attended the different programmes, with about one in three of the parents from the community having taken part.
Seven Passes has also expanded the programme to the Wilderness Heights community.
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