BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Welcome — we are so glad you are here!
In terms of the formalities, meet True North : a non-profit organisation that is pioneering Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives within marginalised communities.
The historical lack of adequate provisioning of basic services to poor communities manifests itself within all spheres of society, ultimately resulting in a vast loss of human potential. The long-term ripple effects of inequality includes increased rates of unemployment, disease, substance abuse and the fragmentation of family units. For obvious reasons, young children are the most at risk.
We’ve been called to love these kids, serve them and their caregivers, and provide them with the opportunity to choose their own “True North”. This is our dream, not for a few children, but for all of them. Yet, as much as this is our heart, the science of human development speaks as loudly : an incredible developmental window of opportunity exists within these early years, and it rapidly diminishes with age. This potential for growth into a “whole” person is not limited to academic development, but encompasses every part of the child’s world. The Why ECD page has been created for those of you who would like to further explore this topic.
When considering how to most effectively address inequality, a combination of various “smart” elements come to mind: clear strategy, measurable outcomes, navigating cultural differences, knowledge sharing, increased access to moderate opportunities, connecting and follow up support, to name a few. And of course being smart is absolutely essential. But for this cause to truly move something inside us, and for ECD initiatives to be vibrant and sustainable, we need to engage our “heart”. Heart builds relationships, and underpins a sense of ownership; heart engenders compassion, understanding and perseverance.
Being Smart with Heart (as pioneered by Heartstyles) is the ethos that has become the bedrock of everything we do, not only as an organisation, but also in our approach to ECD. It lies at the very core of True North’s vision for a South Africa where every child can shine.
Enjoy your time here with us, and feel free to reach out if you would like to connect.
Yours in the joy of transformation,
THE BIG PICTURE
The most recent statistics for South Africa’s Western Cape Province mimics those of the country at large, with access to ECD, and especially quality initiatives, skewed towards families with more resources and older children. The Western Cape is home to approximately 532 097 children under the age of five, with recent ECD audit data indicating that more than 40% have no access to ECD facilities.
These children (251 592) have no access to ECD facilities of any kind
These children (55 000) attend a home-based, unregistered facility
These children (208 579) attend a registered ECD facility
Out of Centre
These children (16 926) attend out of centre programs
Vrygrond and Overcome Heights, located near Muizenberg in the Western Cape, are two of the most concentrated examples of the challenges that plague poverty-ridden communities in South Africa. At last count, Vrygrond was home to some 42 000 people, with approximately 5000 children in the 0 – 5 year old age category. This community was one of South Africa’s very first informal settlements, and bears the legacy of many decades of inequality.
True North’s involvement within Vrygrond began in 2007, initially as a research project to record the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, whilst also exploring the framework provided by local and national government, as well as the quantifying the existing capacity within the non-profit sector.