The Thussanang Service Project has been a special part of Windermere School for many years now. Our pupils aspire to be part of this initiative and the support of the community is constant and extremely generous.
The project, for over 10 years, has been about providing food through soup kitchens, building facilities and spending time with the township children. This has been very effective but it was always felt there was more we as a School could do. In the Summer of 2016 a small and select group travelling to Vryburg to road test an idea to put in place an Education Programme for the pupils at Thussanang, a disabled centre in Huhudi.
We have worked at Thussanang throughout our relationship with Tiger Kloof but it has always been a rather chaotic facility which really child minds the pupils rather than educating them. The team worked to introduce some experiential learning with a view to giving the pupils skills they could use to create a more fulfilling life for themselves. The initiative was a huge success and the volunteer workers at Thussanang gained much from working alongside our team. Tiger Kloof were generous in giving the time of one of their teachers to become a mentor for the Thussanang team visiting on a weekly basis to advise and guide them in their new teaching style. However we left in August 2016 not really knowing whether our plans would come to fruition with no one from Windermere being on the ground to guide the project.
We need not have worried because the team at Thussanang grabbed this opportunity with both hands and were determined to make it work. When we returned in February with a group of Windermere pupils who had been selected for the skills they could bring to the new project Thussanang were ready and enthusiastic to learn new and different skills. The resources we had left to facilitate the experiential learning had been well used and well cared for and the pupils of Thussanang had learnt much in the time we had been away. Gone was the chaotic atmosphere and the lack of direction and now the centre was a place for developing and gaining the skills to move forwards in life. After much deliberation about how best to fund this project and take it forwards we will now look at training for the teachers from a specialist trainer who has worked with pupils who have specific learning needs. We will also look to fund a number of capital projects to improve the facilities at the centre so that pupils and staff can be part of a 21st century learning experience.
The Windermere School Community, supported by a family charity pfcf, have been prolific in their fund raising since the launch of this project in October 2016. A number of events have been organised which have added money to our Holding Hands with Thussanang fund. These have included a launch talk, various bake sales, a coffee morning at Kendal Town Hall, stalls at the Christmas fair, charity cards, competitions such as decorate a bauble, a wonderful dinner and auction at Kendal College, a parachute jump completed by Mr Bond and a Danceathon organised by Miss Byrom. Parents and students have also got involved with fundraising project, including a parent who raised over £1000 for the Tiger Kloof project. We have also been privileged to have secured funding from other organisations and would like to thank South Kendal Rotary and The Michelle Jurd Memorial Trust for their generosity and belief in our project. The Thussanang project has already raised over £20,000!
The first time my daughter and I visited the school she said to me “that is a happy school no question.” The scholastic achievements of the school are evident and an easy measure for a school to demonstrate. What is hard to quantify is the holistic development of a pupil at which, in my experience, Windermere School excels.
Windermere School is such a unique community to be a part of. Not only is it based in a truly beautiful and inspiring national park, but the environment created by staff and students alike makes for an incredibly supportive, proactive, exciting and international place of learning in which everyone can thrive and be the best they can be.