Pupils with special educational needs completed a great feat of collecting, sorting, cleaning and packaging 185 kilograms of plastic bottle tops and bread tags for charity.
Lentegeur School for learners with special educational needs (LSEN) handed the “tops and tags” to the Sweethearts Foundation, a non-profit organisation, converting the plastic into wheelchairs for the needy, on Thursday October 21.
This year’s in-service training for pupils was held in house as national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions limited their work experience beyond the borders of Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital in the last 18 months.
The whole school had a hand in collecting “tops and tags” over the last three years.
After a year of lockdown, staff at the Lentegeur school decided that they would not stop their children from gaining work experience.
During the second term the final year pupils, aged 17 and 18, started a production line of sorting, cleaning and packaging their gift.
“Covid-19 did not stop us,” said occupational therapist Antoinette Davids.
During their final year at school pupils get to experience the job market for two three-week work stints.
Thereafter they seek employment along with thousands of matriculants annually.
Ms Davids said entering the job market was tough but more so for pupils with different abilities, educational challenges and who did not have their national senior certificates.
She said many companies were rigid in their job requirements for pupils to have completed a written exam, when their pupils were capable of doing similar tasks.
Her colleague, occupational therapist Jo Deane, added that a supportive and protective work environment was critical for their pupils’ development.
She said the smiles of accomplishment and pride in contributing to a project was priceless.
Some of the pupils were able to work in the wheelchair clinic and the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre and Lentegeur (regional) laundry, which services 37 healthcare centres and hospitals in the Western Cape.
Principal Elhaam Davids said she was proud of the pupils’ accomplishment and grateful for the staff pulling together to give them the work experience.