Spotlight South Africa: Despite a giraffe’s bad hair day, kids have fun while learning

South African learners from the Athlone School of the Blind have fun at the Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Center (GHWAC). - IFAW - Lisa Cant-HaylettMy initial thoughts when I was planning a second outing to Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Center (GHWAC) for learners from Athlone School of the Blind was that those learners who had visited last year may find it boring. 

Was I proved wrong!

Once again foundation phase learners from Grades R to Grades 3, together with their educators and some minders, joined me and a colleague as we headed out to the winelands of the Western Cape.

Although I have been to GHWAC a number of times, the learners were full of excitement and suddenly my earlier thoughts of boredom were allayed. 

As we entered the grounds the calls of South Africa’s National Bird, the Blue Crane echoed around us and learners scrambled to try and catch a glimpse of the animal that made that “funny noise”.  Partially sighted and blind learners tugging at their friends’ jackets asking them to explain to them what they are seeing. 

We took a brisk walk, or should I say jog, as we tried to keep up with the older learners who had an inkling of who they were about to meet a second time…Gerry the Giraffe.  But this particular morning Gerry seemed to be having a “bad hair” day as she only spent a few minutes in our presence before she wandered off to interact with some buck sharing her enclosure. 

Oh well, everybody is entitled to their “off” days I guess.

Back at the lecture hall, the excitement escalated as some creepy crawlies and slithery friends were introduced to the learners, sending many of the adults running for the bus!

Everyone had the opportunity to the run their fingers over the back of a tortoise, feel the hairy legs of a tarantula and touch the smooth skin of a snake.

There may not have been any “pomp and ceremony” to this outing but I know that each and every learner took something away with them from the experience, and I hope that no matter how small or how big that one thing is, they will carry it with them into the future.


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