Z. Lauwrens, M. Grunow

EQual Zeal Training (SOUTH AFRICA)
Depression, crime, eating disorders, substance abuse, stress, violence, suicide, promiscuity, self harm, and learning difficulties are an all too familiar sign of our times amongst children. We cannot deny the fact that the lifestyles of nations throughout the world are being transformed by technological and cultural advancements at such a fast pace that we are seeing a negative impact on our younger generations ability to think, learn and behave. Without positive intervention that embraces the positive side of technological advancement, young children run the risk of growing up too quickly and becoming desensitized emotionally and socially.

As a modern day society, we need to acknowledge that communal life involves certain laws and principals that an individual cannot get around and that we all need a community in order to survive both mentally and physically. (Adler: 1927) In light of this, we cannot discount the fact that excessive exposure to unfiltered modern technology channels many of which are abused, are eroding childhood and forcing our younger generation to absorb on a subconscious level the messages of social degeneration. Zig Ziglar (1985: 32) was instrumental in identifying some of our negative environmental factors that have the ability to change the way our children think, learn and behave. His concern however, was identifying who is responsible for creating a learning opportunity for the characteristics necessary to be successful in life.

South Africa boasts a nation of almost 50 million people with a diversity of cultures, 11 official languages, and a vast disparity in demographics. Through innovation, progressive tools and hands on skills training, a preventative training programme in South Africa has found an answer to assisting children from all demographics to living up to their inherent potential in a demanding society. With targeted objectives that embrace individuality and leadership potential, this paper intends to share the experiences of working within a nation that exhibits a large amount of resilience despite negative circumstantial influences equivalent to its first world counterparts.

The investigation was conducted over a one year period between January to December 2011 in six of the nine provinces of South Africa, namely: Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, North West and Western Cape. As a sampling procedure, children with one or more identified learning disabilities were targeted. The age range of these learners was in 4 different developmental phases between age 5 and 18. The data was obtained from independently run and privately owned life skills training facilities in the six chosen demographic areas. All training facilities used the same methods of assessment, namely being an online measurement tool for completion by parents during a 20 minute session within the home or office environment. The online assessment, consisting of 10 specific lifestyle areas was completed pre and post intervention to determine the levels of balance and stress management in the child’s life.

This paper will highlight the trends in the pressures imposed on our children in South Africa through the analysis of pre and post course South African data allowing us to analyse how stress relating to life impacts on behaviour, confidence and social skills.