Last week my friend Jo and I went to visit Cotlands. We arrived with a bunch of cupcakes and spent a lovely morning with the awesome ladies who work there and the wonderful group of kids who fall are under their care a few times a week.
One of the reasons for the cupcakes and the visit is that this month MySchool My Planet MyVillage is celebrating their 21st birthday and in turn have set aside R2.1 million to give away to 21 deserving causes across South Africa. So through this MySchool21 campaign, you get to choose where all this money goes by nominating any beneficiary that is making a difference in our communities and for me, Cotlands was most deserving.
This organisation has always been on my radar, ever since I worked on it a few years back when I was still in advertising and since having kids of my own I can really appreciate and respect those out there looking out for little ones in need.
I know that often we just don’t have the time to help out charities physically, but there are so many more ways you can make a difference and it’s awesome that MySchool makes it so easy for you to change so many deserving people’s lives and that’s why I’m always fully behind all these campaigns that I take part in with them, because they do such amazing work across the board!
Over the last 21 years, MySchool MyVillage My Planet has raised more than R500 million for South African schools, charities, animal and environmental causes, thanks to supporters like you and I.
Our visit to Cotlands was really awesome and we got to meet and play with the sweetest little kids and I’m amped to know that I’m making a difference to their lives just by swiping my MySchool card.
Before I left I had the opportunity to chat to the CEO of Cotlands, Monica and asked her a few questions about Cotlands and how far they have come and their relationship with My School which has been going since they first started including charities.
MySchool which provides a stable income for Cotlands has helped them implement numerous programmes that support vulnerable young children. They found that seeing as the need for Cotlands as a hospice and home-based care service steadily reduced as the number of children being born HIV positive decreased, they started to develop a programme to close the learning gaps common in children who were chronically ill and so decided that they would use this knowledge to develop a non-centre based early learning programme for children who had no access to ECD (early childhood development) services.
– Today, Cotlands offers early learning play-based opportunities to thousands of children in six of South Africa’s provinces through toy libraries and playgroups. These programmes give vulnerable children access to high quality play-based early learning opportunities to reduce the effects of deprivation and promote the development of innate potential.
The potential of millions of young children is lost due to our inability to provide families access to quality play-based early childhood education programmes. Cotlands exist to close the access gap by offering innovative programmes that promote play-based learning.
To date, Cotlands has 292 playgroups such as the one that I visited. They also operate 7 toy libraries and 5 mobile toy libraries that support early learning playgroups and other under-resourced early learning programmes.
If any of you would like to get more involved in Cotlands on a volunteer basis there are ways to do so. They need people who can assist with these playgroups, but on a regular basis as to not make it too disruptive for the kids. They are also always in need of good quality new and second-hand toys – puzzles, games, outdoor activities (skipping ropes, balls, bean bags etc), fantasy play (dress up, old telephones etc.) are always welcome. So if you don’t have time to give, then anything that can add to their toy libraries and theme kits that support their learning plan will be greatly appreciated.
If you do have things that you would like to donate you can drop them off at any of their offices below. They are happy to accept toys, children’s clothing, food and stationery that we can use for our children.
The addresses are:
Gauteng: 9 Data Crescent, Ormonde, Johannesburg
Eastern Cape: Unit B13b, BKB Building, Fitzpatrick Road, East London
KwaZulu-Natal: 55 Saunders Street, Hlabisa
Mpumalanga: Mashishing Thusong Service Centre, 1193 Blio Street, Lydenburg
Western Cape: 5 Ray Street, Macassar, Cape Town