Strengths and Solutions with David Blackbeard, and Networking with Frieda Harmse

The first meeting after the mid-year school holidays was held on the 3rd of August 2017, and the Sizabantwana members returned for an exciting and busy afternoon. We had two speakers join us from Grey’s hospital to share their wisdom. David Blackbeard, who is a clinical psychologist, came to chat to Sizabantwana about strengths and solutions with learners and Frieda Harmse, who is a senior social worker, came to talk to us about networking and establishing relationships with external sources. The speakers are sharing their knowledge with us as a contribution to mental illness and disability month, by providing information and resources that can help prevent mental illness and promote mental wellness.

The first speaker, David Blackbeard, shared with the group the importance and benefits of teaching with a solution focused mindset. This presented an alternative to problem focused thinking and engaged the teachers in thinking about ways of encouraging learners to use their strengths and available resources (internal and external) to resolve challenges. Using a solution-focused mindset rather than a problem focused one is a much more effective way of resolving difficulties and overcoming challenges as it focuses on one’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. David shared with the teachers, activities that could help to empower learners to improve their self-confidence and use their

The second speaker, Frieda Harmse, spoke to us about networking and the usefulness and importance of connecting with others, as a form of self-promotion and of promoting one’s school. We learnt that through networking and establishing relationships with others, we can acquire many resources including, information, support, money, direction, mentors and empowerment, therefore, highlighting the usefulness of having networking skills. Frieda discussed tips on how to market and promote ourselves and our schools as one of the first steps to establishing relationships with external sources. Secondly, we learned about how to draw up a community profile, which enables us to see where possible connections may be made. The importance of keeping detailed records of connections is also a valuable resource as this may serve future needs. Frieda also suggested some excellent ideas which could facilitate the opportunity to make new connections or establish relationships between schools and other organisations or individuals. For example, inviting companies, organisations or the press to school prize-giving, concerts or sports days; having open days and taking advantage of designated public holidays or commemoration days, such as Mandela day or Women’s day, where connections with organisations or particular people may be strengthened through a group activity. Following this, Frieda also emphasized the importance of providing feedback to those individuals or organisations that you’ve made a connection with or have collaborated with or hosted. Acknowledging relationships and contributions made by a connected individual or organisation is important in ensuring future collaborations. Thank you, Frieda, for giving us these extremely valuable tips, that we can use to make and maintain a growing and useful network. We very much appreciate your time.

At this Sizabantwana meeting we also handed out certificates of participation for the strengths based workshop that a number of the teachers enjoyed during the mid-term holiday. Thank-you very much to the UKZN Psychology master’s students for hosting the workshop, I know that the teachers at Sizabatwana very much appreciated the skills that they acquired.

I would also like to give a big thank you to Dlalanathi and Uthando, for the beautiful dolls we handed out at this weeks’ meeting. The teachers and learners are always so happy to receive them. Everyone is always amazed at how skilfully and creatively the dolls are made and the speakers were duly impressed by them. Thank you again

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