Spier’s Growing For Good initiatives invest in learning that empowers our communities to make positive social and environmental change. One of these initiatives is the Community Keeper programme at SPARK Lynedoch, a primary school located close to our farm in Lynedoch, just outside of Stellenbosch.
Some of the children who attend SPARK Lynedoch School encounter significant challenges at home and in their communities. These include a lack of access to basic resources, unsafe and, at times, violent home environments (and other kinds of trauma) as well as the ongoing prevalence of foetal alcohol syndrome.
Jess Schulschenk, the director of the Sustainability Institute, which was instrumental in rolling out this programme, says: “Given the socioeconomic challenges they face, we knew that there was a need for socio-emotional support to learners and their families. The partnership with Community Keepers has provided a unique network of specialised expertise to best support the children.”
The Community Keeper office at SPARK Lynedoch employs Mieke van de Merwe as it's full-time office manager. A qualified social worker, she conducts therapy sessions throughout the week. An additional therapist visits weekly to counsel learners who need extra support.
Through contributing to the children’s social and emotional wellbeing, the Community Keepers programme aims to motivate students to reach their full potential and to provide assistance in areas of need. Children often need professional support to face and overcome the dangers and challenges of society.
The programme’s activities fall into four areas
- The Support Keepers initiative offers one-on-one individual assessments, therapy and counselling.
- The Life Keepers initiative offers personal and social development to the kids in a group setting — through classes and workshops.
- The Parent Keepers initiative provides parents with workshops and developmental sessions to enhance their parenting skills.
- Lastly, the Teacher Keepers initiative provides professional support and development of educators so that they are better equipped to deal with the psycho-social challenges they face in the classroom and among colleagues.
“It’s a privilege serving as the Community Keeper at SPARK in Lynedoch,” Mieke says. “Although the children’s circumstances can be difficult to deal with, it is rewarding to be part of positive change in their lives. Even the biggest challenge seems smaller when we take a step closer and take action.”
Mieke finds being able to contribute to the overall wellbeing of the community one of the most fulfilling aspects of the role. “Previous clients who bring their classmates to the Community Keepers office for psychosocial support, vouching for the services we offer, makes it all worth it,” she says.
About Spier Growing for Good
Established in 1692, Spier has long been recognised for its ethically conscious approach to the various facets of our business – which include wine, food, hospitality and the arts. Now, for the first time, this approach is embodied in Spier Growing for Good: a range of learning initiatives designed to empower staff and communities to create positive social and environmental change.
These include tackling one of South Africa’s most pressing challenges, youth unemployment, through mentorship in hospitality, wine and agriculture and the provision of psychosocial support to young school learners within our local communities.
All of Spier wines and offerings display the Growing for Good icon – a heart in a vine leaf that represents both community and the environment. This icon reminds consumers that, by choosing Spier, they are contributing to positive social and environmental impact. Their support ensures we can continue to invest in initiatives that make a meaningful difference. Our focus on learning is because of its ability to unleash the potential of people, catalysing a ripple effect of change that goes far beyond Spier.