POPPETS (Programme Of Primary Prevention: Education Through Stories) & Capacity Building training for Volunteers

Who is the target group?

Preventing the problems of substance abuse can never start too early. The POPPETS Programme is grounded in the principle that the pre-school years are a crucial period for the development of a healthy, well-balanced personality. The intervention also draws on the successful use of puppetry and story telling to create awareness and educate young children in a highly effective and impactful manner.

This dynamic and powerful primary prevention and education programme equips five to nine-year olds with important information, not only about substance abuse, but also about HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse, in addition to teaching them basic but essential life skills. This forms the basis for adopting constructive, desirable behaviours by empowering young children with the knowledge and skills to counteract negative peer pressure and resist the allure of drugs and alcohol in favour of positive, healthy lifestyles.

Objectives of the programme

The specific objectives of the programme are to:

• Convey basic information about drugs and alcohol, and create an awareness of and teach children about the dangers of substance abuse,

• Enhance self-image and promote a positive, healthy sense of self-worth,

• Assist children to develop the necessary skills to resist peer pressure and the allure drugs and alcohol,

• Empower children to make informed decisions, to evaluate these decisions and take responsibility for their choices,

• Encourage children to seek help when confronted with a problem, more especially if it is substance abuse related, and

• Capacity building training for selected volunteers to assist with the marketing and implementation of the POPPETS programme crèches and schools.

Prevention POPPETSPOPPETS programme Mariam 2015 (1)

Programme Content

The POPPETS Programme comprises nine sessions, each focussing on a very specific theme with clear learning objectives, which can be used independently or in a specific sequence. The programme is usually presented over two months as part of the crèche, day care centre and pre- or primary school’s life orientation classes. Each session lasts between 30 and 45 minutes, the length of one class period, and commences with an ice breaker, usually a song or a game, which is followed by a story and various activities. Groups comprise one school class, and usually range in size from about 25 to 40 young learners. Children are captivated by three characters - Lollipop, Grandma and Tinman - in the following sessions:

Session 1: Feelings

This session focuses on the four basic emotions: happiness / joy, anger, fear and grief. Children explore these feelings and are taught to express their emotions in an appropriate and non-destructive manner.

Session 2: Self-Image

The focus is one enhancing each child’s sense of self-worth.

Session 3: Peer Pressure

Children are taught to understand what peer pressure is, how to say “no” and to take responsibility for their choices.

Session 4: Decision-Making

Children are encouraged to consider various issues of relevance and to make decisions about these issues. They are then taught how to evaluate their decisions.

Session 5: Drug and Alcohol Information

This session provides children with basic information about drugs and alcohol and the detrimental effects of substance abuse.

Session 6: Sexual Abuse Awareness

Children are taught about gender differences, sexual abuse, how to say “no” to unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour and ways in which they can protect themselves.

Session 7: HIV/AIDS Awareness

Children are provided with basic information about HIV/AIDS, how people become infected and how to protect themselves.

Session 8: Seeking Help

This session encourages children to ask for help when confronted with a problem.

Session 9: Putting it all Together

All the themes and lessons learnt in the previous sessions are highlighted and brought together in the final session.

POPPETS Capacity Building and Training Programme

POPPETS programme puppet

SANCA Western Cape trains and capacitates volunteers to facilitate the POPPETS Programme in their own communities during a three-day workshop, which covers:

• Background to the programme,
• Drug and alcohol education,
• Presentation skills,
• Content of each POPPETS session,
• The making of puppets,
• Manipulation of puppets,
• The use of activity sheets and flash cards, and
• Administrative record-keeping and evaluation tools.

Each trainee is equipped with a comprehensive programme manual, a set of puppets and a puppet booth, activity sheets and flash cards, as well as the necessary skills to efficiently administer and evaluate the POPPETS programme. These volunteers are initially accompanied by a SANCA trainer to ensure that they are fully equipped and supported to implement the programme effectively. All volunteer facilitators are monitored and supported through regular, ongoing supervision. They receive a small stipend and are required to complete and submit feedback / evaluation forms.

Programme Costs

Approximately 90% of programme expenditure is secured by grants and donations through on-going fundraising. A nominal fee structure is in place to cover the shortfall. We require a motivational letter from the beneficiary to rendering of fully sponsored programme.

Areas where SANCA offer the POPPETS Programme

SANCA social workers render the POPPETS programme from branch offices in Atlantis, Athlone, Cape Town, Guguletu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain,and Tygerberg offices.