A high number of abused children who came to the COPESSA centre for counselling were abused while playing in secluded areas and dumpsites, which are often a far distance away from the community. On further investigation of this trend we discovered that there were no safe areas in our community where children could play.
In 2008, we approached Johannesburg City Parks, whose mandate it is to build community parks, to partner up with us to build a play park for children. The first phase of the first park was realized in 2009 in Protea Glen Ext 11, thanks to sponsorship from Johannesburg City Parks, EOH Mthombo Trust, Table of Peace and Unity, and the Infant Trust. The park was erected 100m away from the COPESSA counselling centre. It boasts about 120 indigenous trees all donated by City Parks.
Later in the same year phase two of the park, which involved planting of the grass, paving of pathways, refurbishment of the play equipment and addition of new pieces and lighting, was completed in less than twenty four hours, with the help of City Parks and 200 pupils from Dainfern High School, NoordHeuwel High School and the local Protea Glen schools. This was made possible by a generous donation from City Parks, Mike Horn Foundation and Pangaea Young Explorers’ Programme.
COPESSA also established another park in the Waterworks Informal Settlement which was also built from an illegal dumpsite. This was built in partnership with Westonaria Municipality and was funded by The Table of Peace and Unity, Westonaria Municipality, The Good Start Foundation and Synovate. The park has since been disfunct since the settlement was moved by the Municipality to another area.
The COPESSA Children’s Park provides children of the Protea Glen community with a safe space to play, and also boasts a mini-library, and an activity centre where our flagship preventative After-School Care Programme is hosted. Children can enjoy activities such as playing chess, reading or sports, to mention a few. The major purpose for this programme is to foster child and youth development, thus giving young people a sense of purpose and keeping them off the streets. Copessa recognizes that a lot of children grow up as orphans or in very challenged at worst dysfunctional homes and without parental guidance.
Some of the activities that we have done over the years include:
– Homework assistance, reading and writing and Spelling Bee competitions
– Board games, chess training and chess tournaments,
– Arts and Crafts, Drama and Drumming, Ballet
– Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball and Karate
– Gardening 101 under supervision of the Siyoyisisile Indlala Garden Gogos and Mkhulus.
– Awareness Campaigns including Child Protection Week, Park Clean-Up Campaign, Substance Abuse
– Girls and Boys Dialogues
– Life skills
– Christmas Party
– Distribution of food parcels and clothing donations.
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