Department of Education

Sustainable Schools WA

Sustainable Schools WA

Spearwood Alternative School


During 2006 – 2007 students at Spearwood Alternative School have worked to support the children in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), South Africa through the Uthando Doll Project. KwaZulu Natal is home to one quarter of South Africa’s children, and two in every three of them live in poverty and 1.5 million are younger than six. The HIV and AIDS pandemic affect everyone, and the ravages of the pandemic increase the vulnerability of all children. While nutritious food, clean water, shelter and education are essential for a child’s wellbeing, so is play.

Play enables children to develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and spiritually in a more robust way. Through play children have the opportunity to experience delight and to unleash their imagination. They may also express their grief and loss, and come to better understand things that trouble or confuse them. One grandmother may have up to a dozen children in her care, and some children live in child-headed households. Tired, grieving and overburdened caregivers sometimes need help to find a place in their day-to-day lives to support and join in their children’s play.

To support this process, doll makers around the world provide handmade dolls, sewn or knitted, for caregivers to give their children.
In 2004, Dr Julie Stone, an infant, child & family psychiatrist visited South Africa. She witnessed the stark situation and invited people to respond by making dolls. Uthando means 'love' in the Zulu language. It was through Dr Julie Stone that Spearwood Alternative School became involved in the project with students in Bakoolba and Bungana (years 4 – 7).

The school has an ongoing commitment to undertake some form of doll making every year.

Information to the general school community is disseminated through the school newsletter and dolls put on display for some time before being sent to South Africa. In 2007, information to the broader community took the form of providing the kids’ dolls for display at the doll auction held at the University of WA held to raise funds for the project. Dolls were displayed alongside other works associated with the doll making – kids’ designs and recordings of the process. The project work was also displayed to the general community at the school’s Spring Fair.

In 2006 all students from Spearwood Alternative School were delighted to meet with Georgia Efford, coordinator of the Uthando Doll project here in WA.

As yet, the school has not sought any sponsorship for its involvement in this project.

Curriculum Links

The Arts: Arts Ideas; Arts Skills and Processes; Arts in Society
Society and Environment: Culture; Active Citizenship
Values: Respect and Concern for Others and their Rights

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Spearwood Alternative School

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