Surprise school outreach educates learners on health and hygiene

Hospital shares some ‘Madiba magic’ with children

Friday, July 20 2018

The excitement on the faces of the pupils from the Open Air School for children with disabilities in Glenwood, Durban, was palpable when Netcare Parklands Hospital staff members and a number of Netcare 911 paramedics arrived at their school in rapid response vehicles and ambulances on International Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July.

The vehicles formed part of an outreach team consisting of staff members and medical professionals from Netcare Parklands Hospital and emergency medical services provider Netcare 911. The team wanted the 230 pupils at the school to enjoy a fun filled day while learning about personal hygiene, illnesses and injury prevention. 

Pic:The team from Netcare Parklands Hospital and Netcare 911 at the Open Air School on International Mandela Day.

According to Netcare Parklands Hospital general manager, Fuad Salie, the hospital’s staff members were enthusiastically involved in the special outreach programme, either by participating in the event itself or by supporting a fundraising initiative for the school’s learners. 

“We decided to keep the event as a complete surprise for the children, who all had a wonderful day. The outreach team provided the delighted children with goodie bags filled to the brim with treats. It was, however, the Netcare 911 rapid response vehicles and ambulances that caused the most excitement and were a huge attraction. The children were allowed to enter the ambulances and the various life-saving equipment was shown to them,” says Mr Salie. 

The outreach team made the most of the opportunity to impart some meaningful information and skills to the children. They educated the learners on hand hygiene and how it can prevent the spread of germs and diseases, and provided tips on cold and flu prevention along with the right way to cough so that germs are not spread to others. 

Pupils were educated on hand hygiene and how it can prevent the spread of germs.

Conrad Jones, paramedic from Netcare 911 showing some of the grade 1 pupils how an ambulance looks on the inside.

Older children, teachers and caregivers were taught the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation from the ICU and emergency department from Netcare Parklands Hospital. Vaneshree Kisten, sister from the Netcare Parklands Hospital emergency department; with a pupil.

Older children, teachers and caregivers were taught the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a lifesaving technique that can prove invaluable in emergency situations where a person’s heart has stopped beating and they have stopped breathing, such as cases of cardiac arrest or a near drowning. 

“We at Netcare Parklands Hospital and Netcare 911 are privileged to have had the opportunity to spend a day with the delightful learners of the Open Air School, and to create some ‘Madiba magic’ on this special day that is celebrated throughout the world,” adds Mr Salie.

Salie says the school’s choir left a deep impression when they entertained hospital nursing staff on International Nurses Day in May. When the hospital enquired whether it could, in return, do an outreach to thank the learners, the idea was met with excitement by the school’s principal, Mr Noel Moodley.

“Former president Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world, and I cannot agree more. We at Open Air School believe that it is imperative for us to do our best to ensure that we prepare our pupils to enter society as responsible citizens, who are able to take care of their own health and wellbeing. We were therefore delighted when Netcare Parklands Hospital approached us with this initiative,” Mr Moodley adds. 

The Open Air School was the brainchild of Dr Thompson, who was the medical officer of the Natal Education Department in 1916. Miss Louisa MacDonald was recruited in Scotland to become the school's first principal. Together with one other teacher, a nurse and a cook, the school welcomed its first 19 pupils when it opened on 9 February 1921. It was the first school of its kind in South Africa to cater specifically for the education and rehabilitation of children with physical and cognitively disabilities. 

The school buildings at the time consisted of just two classrooms, a doctor's treatment room, a kitchen, two cloakrooms and an area containing a special bath for treatment purposes. Today, the school has a staff of 120 members, which includes teachers, allied healthcare professionals, assistants and support staff, and caters to the needs of hundreds of children with disabilities.

“This day will serve to remind us how each dedicated, caring Netcare staff member can bring about meaningful change within the community that we serve, and that we must continue to embrace the values and legacy held dear by Madiba,” concludes Mr Salie.  


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Parklands Hospital and Netcare 911
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster 
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]