Reading into the future

Pictured at the back, from left, are hip hop coach Redaah Young, dancers Jayda-Lee Welkom, 14, and Naomi Pilott, 13. In the middle are Janine Koopman, 13, and Lushay Solomons, 12. In front are Cayden Fouche, 11, and Shakuur Solomons, 11.

Eastridge community organisation Volunteers for Jesus is doing its best to keep children off the streets and busy with extracurricular activities.

Renee Peters, founder and co-ordinator of the group, said they started a book club about a month ago and have been astounded by the need and participation of the children.

“We are working hard to help a Grade 4 boy read. We suspect a learning a disability but we will see what we can do to have him assessed,” she said.

Ms Peters is studying teaching after having closed her creche last year.

“Those who can read well sit and read quietly,” she said.

She encourages parents to take their children to the library, let them join and bring the books to club.

Book club meets every Tuesday and Thursday for an hour after 4pm.

They also have toddlers coming in, who read the books upside down but are enthralled by the pictures.

The five-year-old organisation also has a netball club called the Rising Stars, which was started last year and which meets every Monday, for a meeting; and every Tuesday and Thursday for training.

They are, however, not able to join a league because they cannot afford uniforms and do not have netball hoops to practise shooting.

Teenagers gather at Ms Peters’ home at 28 Boekenhout Street, in Eastridge, to let off some steam between Monday and Thursday, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

Redaah Young, who is their dance instructor, said dance saved his life. “Life is fast here. You make the wrong choice and you could end up with the wrong crew,” he said.

“Dance kept me away from a lot of bad things and a lot of my friends are involved with wrong things,” he said.

Ms Peters agreed with Mr Young and said that about five of her friends, people she had gone to school with had died in recent years because of drugs and gangsterism.

She said they are working hard to encourage young children in Eastridge to achieve success.

Co-founders Cuan Bowman and his wife Natasha, from Portland, said they are not involved in the daily running of the organisation but do their best to assist when they can by collecting and distributing donations.

Anyone who would like to help can call Ms Peters on 063 467 5171.