A safe place for children to face their trauma

Silverleaf staff members and Jelly Beanz therapists at the launch of the therapy space at the school last week.

Silverleaf Primary School in Dunoon received a therapy “house” last week – it’s designed as a space place where children can talk about issues troubling them.

The decorated wendy house is on the school’s premises and was delivered by Jelly Beanz Home For Children. Jelly Beanz, a non-profit organisation, specialises in therapeutic services for children who have experienced trauma.

According to Edith Kriel, executive director at Jelly Beanz, most of the children they work with have gone through some form of sexual and physical abuse. The children are not always willing to speak so they have a team of therapists that encourages them to communicate through play activities.

“We also work with the children’s families very closely because the trauma is usually throughout the family. Sometimes we will need outside intervention for some cases that we might not be able to deal with and that is where SAPS or the Department of Social Development will come in.

Jelly Beanz generally works with children from the age of 3. If the child is younger than that, the organisation will work with the parents.

Ms Kriel says a therapy session usually lasts 45 to 50 minutes for a minimum of about 12 sessions depending on the trauma.

Pictured are Jelly Beanz therapist, Vathiswa Pom, Silverleaf principal Nomathemba Vumazoke and Yonela Tanase also a therapist at Jelly Beanz.

According to the school’s principal, Nomathemba Vumazonke, the partnership with JellyBeanz goes back to 2017. Since then, a therapist has visited the school once a week to work with the children but there was never a designated place for the sessions to take place and they would often have to use an empty office or the staff room.

“Dunoon is a diverse community, faced with many socio-economic issues that affect our learners, sometimes resulting in poor academic performance,” says Ms Vumazonke. “Jelly Beanz provided our school with a social worker who attends to our learners’ needs once a week. Learners in our school are going through a lot. They are exposed to social ills, victims of negligence, domestic violence, sexual abuse.”

Staff members can also make appointments with the therapists.

The wendy house has pillows, blankets, toys, stationery and books to make the children feel comfortable.