For weeks 13 and 14, half of PULSE (Ine and Geir) are located in the Northern Cape, conducting the first ever FBF Educational band visits together with Field Band Education (FBE) and some of our Peer Educators.
These educational band visits will take place in field bands all over South Africa throughout 2017, and the aim is to offer more training for Field band staff, and to get the same training out to all bands. It is also an opportunity for our Peer Educators to practise facilitating, and they will take turns in joining these band visits.
Each band visit lasts for 4 days: we have 3 days of workshops with the band staff, facilitating in PULSE and FBE material. On the last day of the band visit we go out to the local band and cooperate with the band staff to make a joyful and motivational event for the members.
PULSE´s main focus on these educational band visits is disability awareness and inclusive teaching. Through three days of workshops the band staff learns about what a disability is and possble causes of disabilities, and get important and useful knowledge on how we relate to, respect, include and talk about people living with disabilities.
We also have a session where we go deeper into one kind of disability that is especially prevalent in the community their field band operates in, as well as a practical session on how to implement the knowledge of disability awareness into the band, and the tutors teaching. At the end of it all, in cooperation with the band staff, we will have created a Change Agent Action Plan specific for each band, with strategies and tools for how to be even better at including field band members living with disabilities and making sure that their field band experience is one of safety , mastery, belonging and joy.
The content, spread over four sessions in three days, is set up like this:
Session one: What is a disability?
The session explains what a disability is, and uses activities and exercises to give the learners an idea of what it might be like to be living with a disability. It aims to clarify and put into words that people living with disabilites are capable of a lot, and should not be underestimated or belittled.
The session also gives knowledge of what some possible causes of disabilities are, and examines beliefs and opinions regarding disabilities in the band staff´s own community.
The aim of this is to encourage language and practises in relation to people living with disabilities that are promoting holistic health, and to examine how we can remove some of the stigma still surrounding people living with disabilities.
We also want to give information on behaviour that can cause disabilities, such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and shaken baby syndrome. We hope that by giving information on this and enabling the learners to share that information in their communities, we can increase awareness and hopefully contribute to lower the number of children being affected.
Session two: Being inclusive and respectful
This session goes deeper into the subject of treating everybody with respect. Through enforcing the point that people living with disablities have the same needs and feelings as everyone else, we examine what is the best way of relating to people living with disabilities. Through giving tools and doing activities we strengthen the band staff´s confidence in meeting people living with disabilities in a dignified and enabling way.
We also introduce the concept of ”people first language”, both a respectful way to talk about people living with disabilities and a way to remind ourselves all the time that everyone is first and foremost a person.
Session three: A closer look at a disability that is especially prevalent in the community the participant´s field band operates in.
Through taking time to work closely with one specific disability that is relevant to the learners, we hope to help increase the band staff´s competence to teach children living with this disability both by having more knowledge about the disability and by getting specific tools to use. For the Kimberley session we focused on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Session four: Practical disability awareness.
Time to implement the knowledge we have gained. Through check-lists and activities we examine the status in the band staff´s own band, and find points to improve on. After agreeing on what we want to and can improve, we cooperate in finding tools that we can use to do just that. The points of improvement and the tools are gathered in a ”Change agent action plan” that the band staff will take back to their bands and implement. PULSE will follow up on how the implementation is going and offer advice in the process.
As we close this first ever band visit in Kimberley, we look back at a great week. We are very impressed, both with the peer educators who have risen to every challenge they were presented with, and with the Kimberley band staff who have shown great involvement and work ethics.
The final big blowout of the band visits – the joyful and motivational event for the members, was a great success. All the members present appeared to be having a good time, and they also got some very useful life skills knowledge on opportunity and setting boundaries. In addition to this they got to play a lot of fun games and try their skills at acting.
We take with us this success and all our positive experiences, and look forward to next week, when PULSE, FBE and Peer Educators will visit Hanover and Petrusville/Phillipstown Field Bands.
Written by Ine Nord, Pictures by Ine Nord and Jack Mmetseng.