Highlights of the first quarter, 2010
by Sharon Johnson – Wellness co-ordinator
The Wellness Portfolio at CASE is new to the organization, so the model had to be developed before implementation. What, you may ask, is wellness? Is it a state of being for the individual, the community or society? Wellness actually takes place on all three levels. We cannot be well individually if our community circumstances are unhealthy and similarly we cannot thrive in the community if our social environment is not well.
At CASE we are concerned about wellness so that staff and volunteers can function optimally through caring for their well-being. We also need to facilitate self-care for all members of the community to support our work of reducing incidents of violence.
The wellness focus in the first quarter was on counseling to staff, volunteers and wider community members who need support, such as family members and teachers. The purpose of counseling is to offer support, compassion and care, awakening within each person the ability to take care of themselves, finding their own strength and enabling them to make their own wise decisions in the face of difficulties. Forty people, volunteers, staff and teachers, attended one-on-one counseling sessions in the first quarter.
Focus was also put on teachers, who were encouraged to think about their own wellness, so strengthening their ability to handle challenging conditions in the classroom. A variety of options have been offered, from one on one counseling to debriefing and relaxation workshops. In total, three meetings were held at schools, with 20 – 30 teachers attending. The number of teachers reached was approximately 75.
Wellness days, at which 10 literacy volunteers and 15 counselors were able to measure their levels of stress and trauma and consider their coping tools, were also held. Relaxation exercises or an outing made up the balance of the time. Fifteen counselors visited the labyrinth at St Georges Cathedral and were taken through the exercise to awaken their inner wisdom and insights. An informal picnic lunch followed on the grass in the Gardens.
CASE also offers exercise classes twice a week with Val Benjamin, who checks on weight and blood pressure. Altogether approximately 10 counsellors made use of this facility in the first quarter. We hope to motivate more attendees in the months ahead.
Wellness came in the shape of 5 000 Easter eggs when Grove Primary School, together with Newlands Rotary Club, donated treats for the children at the schools in Hanover Park. There were lots of smiles and sticky faces! St Cyprians also donated eggs which made up the Easter egg hunt for counselors and Kids Club in the holidays. Mt Nelson Hotel donated three double tickets to their High Tea as a treat to Literacy, counsellors and staff. So far, Aunty Katy plans to take her husband for a special treat on her birthday as a surprise. The other two tickets have yet to be drawn!
CASE is also planning to introduce wellness to Phillipi Police Station, where we have a counselor dealing with victims of crime. We are planning to start growing vegetables among the containers at CASE offices, with Women’s Wellness group members and the youth taking responsibility for watering and caring for plants. The Wellness Coordinator has also been invited to the next men’s group meeting, where counseling and debriefing will be offered.
All in all, it has been a busy and challenging time, with Hanover Park community members reflecting on their wellness and CASE spreading the healing to staff, volunteers and beyond. In the first quarter, Wellness touched the lives of thousands of children and adults and a big THANKS to all whose generosity and kindness made it all possible. Thanks too to the wonderful people of Hanover Park who are prepared to work on themselves and to spread wellness around them in the bid to break the cycle of violence.