The first five years of a child’s life are crucial for developing concepts, skills, and attitudes that form the basis for children to thrive. To celebrate the late Nelson Mandela’s playful spirit and lifelong commitment to social justice over July, the DO MORE FOUNDATION (founded by RCL FOODS) is bringing together over *15 business partners and over 500 volunteers to bring more play to approximately 9,600 young children at 192 Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres across South Africa.

This year’s official Mandela Day theme is “It is in Your Hands”, a powerful refrain that can be found in the many speeches and actions Madiba took throughout his life. It will be embodied at the Foundation’s “Mandela Day of Play” events by all those rolling up their sleeves for 67 minutes to upgrade an under-resourced ECD centre in their area.

During the month of July, volunteers at RCL FOODS, Rainbow and Vector sites in seven provinces (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, Free State and Western Cape) will be working together to build – among other possible upgrades – areas for imaginative and sensory play, reading corners, sandpits, bike tracks, and gardens at their chosen ECD centre. These infrastructure additions will not only provide the young children at these centres with more hours and different types of fun, they will also enhance young children’s early learning and development experience.

The importance of play in a young child’s learning and development

The first five years of a child’s life are crucial for developing concepts, skills, and attitudes that form the basis for lifelong learning. Play is essential in building various areas of development for young children, such as gross motor, fine and visual coordination, cognitive and executive functioning, and social, emotional and physical skills.  

According to the ECD Census 2021 Report, free play is often limited, and materials and equipment for these activities are scarce in ECD centres, especially those that are unregistered. Approximately 50% of the 42,420 ECD programs assessed reported providing less than 30 minutes of free play each day. 

“Our nation’s children are facing critical developmental challenges, with the Thrive by Five Index 2022 revealing that 55% of South African children aged four and five in early learning programs are struggling to meet expected learning milestones,” says Warren Farrer, CEO of the DO MORE FOUNDATION. “It’s crucial that we emphasize the importance of learning through play, as it is fundamental to their cognitive and social development.”

Collective action engenders greater social change for more young children

The success of this annual nation-wide project hinges on partnerships with mission-aligned organizations that understand the importance of investing in children’s early years. For Mandela Day events, in particular, the critical role these multi-sectoral collaborations have in empowering play-based learning in some of South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities.

“The power of partnerships to achieve this impact cannot be overstated”, explains Iris Naidoo Partnerships Lead for the DO MORE FOUNDATION. “Partnering with businesses is essential for positively impacting the lives of young children in South Africa. Businesses hold the resources and expertise to tackle complex social issues affecting children, including poverty, education, and health. By joining forces, businesses and organizations like the DO MORE FOUNDATION can pool their strengths, resources, and networks to achieve a greater impact together than they could individually.”

*Mandela Day partners: CHEP, Anchor Yeast, RCL FOODS, Rainbow, Siqalo, Vector, REMGRO, Riverview, PEPKOR Speciality, Tekkie Town, CODE, Refinery, Dunns, Shoe City, SPCC, Eat Fresh, Tsebo, DUT

Businesses interested in partnering with the Foundation this Mandela Day, please contact:

Iris Naidoo
DO MORE FOUNDATION: Partnerships Lead
‪+27 (0) 82 373 2299

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