A child’s earliest experiences can have lifelong effects on his intellectual, emotional and social development. Positive early experiences promote positive outcomes. We know that many of the babies and small children placed with us at iThemba Lethu, have had far from positive early experiences – lengthy stays in hospital, placement in large places of safety where there are many children needing care, abandonment and lack of basic nurturing and nourishment, are only some of the trauma’s they may have experienced before they even come to iThemba Lethu.
Neuroscience shows that children’s brains develop at an astounding rate in the first years of life. At age 3, for example, the brain has reached 80 percent of its adult size. But more important, the brain is more adaptable during these first three years than it ever will be again. Brain cells are making more connections, and making them faster, than in later childhood. There is tremendous opportunity in this window of time to make a lifetime of difference for a child, to help heal the traumas and set the child on a road to restoration.
iThemba Lethu recognises that the simple acts of touching, holding, cuddling, talking, reading and playing with a child consistently from birth cause his brain to forge connections that are the foundation for a healthier and more successful life and positive social and emotional development. Therefore, aside from providing optimal nutrition, a safe and healthy environment, stimulation and education, iThemba Lethu’s staff focus on ensuring that all these tactile and interactive acts are part of every child’s day, trying our best to ensure that our children do not experience secondary neglect, but are loved and nurtured as far as possible within a family like environment.
Submitted with much love for her ‘favourite job ever’
Mrs Brenda Cooper