The sweltering early morning heat and rising temperatures did little to dampen the spirits of a boisterous group of grade-one learners at Mount Pleasant Primary on Tuesday, 19 January when they became the recipients of stationery laden backpacks, courtesy of the Ward 4 Backpack Project. More than 50 backpacks filled with prescribed stationery were handed over to the young learners by Michael Cardo, MP: Shadow Minister of Economic Development and Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, Overstrand’s Executive Mayor.
Also in attendance at the specially marked ceremony at Mount Pleasant Primary School was Ward 4 Councillor Lianda Beyers-Cronjé, the project initiator and co-ordinator who, along with Ann Wright the Manager of Sustainable Futures Trust, has played a pivotal role in marketing and garnering much-needed funds in support of the project.
For some, the moment proved overwhelming. “This is the first time I have a bag to call my own. It even has a whole pack of paper – and there’re pencils, a scissors, crayons, a colour-in book, a ruler and so much more. And this is all for me,” remarked one of the grade one learners. A feeling that seemed to echo throughout.
The look of appreciation and wonder on the faces of the little ones was reward enough for Beyers-Cronjé who stated, “My main aim was to ensure that these children could at least have their own basic stationery and not have to borrow from their classmates. This makes for a more equal playing field, is less distracting for the teachers and affords the kids a better start to their school life.”
On addressing the grade one’s, Executive Mayor Nicolette Botha-Guthrie encouraged them to look after their backpacks and stationery saying, “You’ve been given such a wonderful gift and I know you will treasure it. Listen to your teachers and learn well. At the end of the year I want to come back, hear about the good marks you got and that you’ve passed on to grade two.”
Principal Mattie Hull extended his gratitude to the Mayor and her party and said that initiatives such as the Ward 4 Backpack Project not only assist in equipping learners with the necessary tools, but also allows them a sense of pride and dignity.