Chevrolet Ute Force, a varied team of skilled experts, has helped the orphaned and affected children of Sparrow Rainbow Village by creating developmental play and exercise areas for them.
Sparrow caters for children of all ages, from babies to matriculants, and the newly created areas are used for babies to pre-crèche toddlers so they can learn spatial, cognitive, physical and other skills necessary to become healthy adults.
“The children at Sparrow Rainbow Village have been removed from their homes for various reasons, including being orphaned,” says Tim Hendon, Chevrolet brand manager at General Motors South Africa. “Sparrow gives them a home and provides all of their clothing, meals, love and education needs through local schools. This is a clear example of South Africans helping themselves and it’s people like these that we want to help too.”
The project included building a sand pit in an organic shape and using recycled tyres for its border. It saw the creation of a safe outdoor play area where the children can have the opportunity for normal play experiences and help them with the skills so fundamental to everyday life as an adult. It included having rubber mats colourfully painted, an outdoor afternoon sleep area was created based on a colourful theme, the surrounding fence was painted, existing playground equipment painted, wooden logs painted and manoeuvred to cordon off an area for play, and additional toys were bought for children to use in the garden.
The Thusanani Childrens Foundation is a group of occupational and speech therapists that provide a service to various children’s homes and centres around Johannesburg and is focused specifically on helping children between the ages of 0 and 6. “Children in institutions don’t get the individual attention that children in their own homes do so they are often at risk of developmental delay,” says Caroline Rose, occupational therapist and manager at The Thusanani Childrens Foundation. “At Sparrow Rainbow Village the children are in a hospice environment for various reasons and, although they are well children, they rarely had the opportunity for any play and were very withdrawn, lethargic and delayed when we started working here. Some of the children have special needs and we are working with the care-givers to give them confidence when handling these children and to help them understand the importance of play and the skills that all these children need to learn. We also work with the children to expose them to different and new experiences that help them to develop cognitively, emotionally and physically. The sandpits, toys and play areas that Chevrolet Ute Force has created will give these children all the learning and play opportunities that they need to support their development.”
Sparrow Ministries was founded by Reverend Corine McClintock in 1992 and seeks to provide care and comfort to adults and children who have been infected or affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic. It is a hospice for the terminally ill and a home for the vulnerable children homeless due to the death of one or both parents or care-givers.
Chevrolet Ute Force’s team of experts, assembled from a pool of talented volunteers, drew on their individual skills that range from Aidan Bennetts’ design and presentation skills and promotional assistance to the services of Caroline Rose, to complete the project.
“At the centre of the project is the third-generation Chevrolet Utility bakkie that is not just giving to ordinary South Africans but doing so in a way that continues to bear fruits after the project is completed,” says Hendon. Chevrolet Utilities were once more used to transport materials and goods and for all aspects of the project.
Sister Rose, director at Sparrow Rainbow Village, says: “We had a playground where the occupational therapists from Thusanani could work with some of our children but they were never designed with special needs in mind. We knew that some of our children, such as those with cerebral palsy, required more specialised attention and that they had to have a means of developing specific skills, such as spatial awareness and motor skills, and Chevrolet Ute Force was kind enough to help us create those areas. They will benefit the children with us today and those who will be with us in the future.”
Once the project is complete Chevrolet Ute Force representatives will plant herbs to add colour and fragrance. Chevrolet Ute Force videographer, Louis Bolton of Bolton Inc, has created a mini-documentary viewable at the Chevrolet Ute Force website at: uteforce.chevrolet.co.za/uteforce/.