Encouraging social-emotional learning and inculcating life skills via sport and life-orientation lessons is at the heart of what CoolPlay, a Western Cape-based NGO, does in 21 schools across the province.
Western Cape, South Africa (22 July 2021) – A heartfelt letter from an educator at a Cape Town township school has highlighted the value of the work being done by NGO CoolPlay.
In his note to the organisation, Ukhanyo Primary School teacher and sports master Siya Mayiya highlights the positive impact CoolPlay has had for learners.
“They are more well-disciplined. Their self-esteem has improved, especially for the learners who struggled academically. They now work very well in group activities as the concept of teamwork has been instilled in them.”
Mayiya goes on to explain how CoolPlay’s method of using sport to illustrate concepts such as teamwork and responsibility has created value.
“Sport also enhances the physical and mental health of learners, and this has led to improved performance academically. The learners have also developed leadership skills. Learners are positive and optimistic about their future in sport, and that also has positive outcomes in the community as most of these learners also take part in sport in the community. This also keeps them away from social ills like drug abuse and gangsterism.”
Encouraging social-emotional learning and inculcating life skills via sport and life-orientation lessons is at the heart of what CoolPlay, a Western Cape-based NGO, does in 21 schools across the province. Recently appointed CEO Tori Gardner explains how the CoolPlay programme’s focus on personal values benefits learners.
“On the one end, we offer social-emotional learning, and on the other, we teach life skills, both via the medium of sport – but we don’t pin ourselves onto either of those labels. Core of what we do is creating an understanding of personal values. If you have those in place, then it helps create resilience and other positive attributes that help children in difficult circumstances navigate a complex world.”
Underpinning CoolPlay’s approach is the experience that these skills are the best investment to make in a child – besides a noticeable increase in academic involvement and in-class engagement, children grow in self-awareness and confidence and are empowered to manage the pressures of life.
The value of these skills taught the CoolPlay way has been supported by many loyal organisations and individuals over the years and has also been recognised by both the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and The Allan and Gill Gray Foundation, which has recently provided critical funding.
Saleem Sonday, head of Group Savings and Investments at Allan Gray, nominated CoolPlay as one of the charities for consideration as part of the “Philanthropy Initiative with Employees of Allan Gray”. This initiative, which stems from Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies, sees employees vote for a funding theme and beneficiaries, and grants are channelled towards these beneficiaries following an evaluation process.
Sonday, who is also an active trustee on CoolPlay’s board, says: “We are very grateful for the boost from this grant, and we are excited to welcome Tori on board. She brings a deep skillset and will allow us to professionalise the way we manage the organisation and create long-term sustainability.”
Appointed to the post in June this year, Gardner brings years of experience from her previous role at the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund and a background in sport science and teaching.
“Looking back, I can see how all my previous roles have brought me to the place I am now.”
She emphasises the critical role of the CoolPlay Champions – role models from the community who have been trained in the CoolPlay methodology. They create safe spaces to impart life lessons to the learners in a tangible way. There are currently 34 champions working at schools in the province.
“CoolPlay is not just about life skills. It’s a way of life. Our champions exemplify this. It is a programme that provides hope and strength, and this is what they project.”
Gardner’s vision is to build on the positive reputation that CoolPlay has established since 2013 – both in schools and within the communities in which it operates.
“I want the Sport for the Development community, corporates, foundations and individuals to recognise us as a power for good and a partner for positive change. Additional funding will mean that we can recruit, train and help our Champions reach their potential, and ultimately reaching and engaging more children in the CoolPlay way.”
For more information about CoolPlay’s programme, or to receive details about how you can assist its work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.