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How Knysna’s Community Came Together for Paula Whitney Preschool

When Paula Whitney Preschool faced challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, KET stepped in to prevent it from closing. The support that followed is a testament to Knysna’s community.

There were only about 30 children left attending at the time, as parents were struggling to afford fees. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the KET volunteers could not visit the preschool. Instead, they rallied up a focused support group to personally donate money which bought food for the children attending, supplemented with vegetables from the Melrose House garden. While e’Pap supplied their nutritious breakfast, Knysna’s community ensured that the children also had a cooked, healthy meal at lunch.

During this time, KET’s registration team intervened with principal and governing body mentoring, training and support to equip those involved in the preschool to run it sustainably. Principal Nolwethu recognised the need to start a baby room and people generously made and donated cots. An extra room was organised and new windows were put in so that it was suitable for babies.

Another significant project was the playground, which was falling apart and not safe for the children to play on. Volunteer Moyra organised for Knysna Leisure Industries to support the rebuild of the jungle gym, while Craig Smith transported the wood and lent his tools so that James Smith from BBraun Medical Products together with Angelo Goede, KET’s maintenance and gardener, could fix the jungle gym. This made a huge difference to the children’s outdoor playtime. BBraun also donated a brand new sign for outside.

Now, 113 children attend the preschool with eight staff. Volunteer Marie, who has been extremely involved with Paula Whitney for the past six years, speaks highly of the current teachers and their wonderful work. Teaching assistants or students who are training are encouraged to volunteer here, since the staff are well qualified.

One major need is learning resources and toys for the children to play with. Marie still regularly delivers toys and makes resources from recycled goods and works closely with the teachers in giving sound tips for the best strategies on puzzle building and making. However, more toys or learning tools are always welcome.

It is amazing how Knysna came together at a time of uncertainty and continues to support Paula Whitney and the dedicated Principal Nolwethu. Thank you to every organisation and individual involved!