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Community health workers visiting children in their homes. (Photo: Supplied)

Health workers bring stories to 10 000 children


Community health workers in the province and Mpumalanga will now have access to Nal’ibali and Grow Great’s bilingual reading-for-enjoyment supplement.
The supplement is a popular booklet filled with written children’s stories and related literacy activities in a variety of South African languages to ensure that children’s hearts and minds as well as their bodies are nourished.
The initiative will give young children and babies an opportunity to experience the magic of stories in their homes while seeing a health worker.
In Limpopo the campaign will focus on the Greater Letaba and Greater Giyani sub-districts in Mopani and in Mpumalanga it will roll out in the Ehlanzeni District.
In these areas community health workers currently reach over 12 000 children under the age of two through Grow Great.
A statement issued on behalf of the Nal’ibali campaign quoted Nicola Eley, Programme Lead at Grow Great to have said that children are hardwired to fall in love with stories. “It is how we as humans make sense of the world around us and how we learn language. Community health workers are community leaders and heroes. They provide home-based care to families and are the connection point between primary health care services and communities. These trusted community figures are in a unique position to not only provide health care for both the parents and the child, but to offer support to new parents who might not otherwise have access to developmental aids, in a one-on-one setting.
“Storytelling and reading are magical experiences for young children, and they are also an important part of childhood development, right from the outset. Even when babies don’t yet understand many words, studies have shown that reading with them helps stimulate their brains. Further, sharing books with pictures, rhymes and simple stories has been proven to help teach older children vocabulary and language, but even very young children respond to the parent-child engagement in profound ways building important interpersonal bonds and establishing neural circuits in their brains,” the statement concluded.