Air Products South Africa is known for investing in long-term projects and making an impact. The WitnessHappiness project is another one of these projects – the only difference being that it is not a commercial investment, but one with a far-reaching social impact. This project, which forms part of Air Products’ corporate social investment (CSI) strategy, was launched nationally in July and initiated to provide assistance to early childhood development (ECD) centres in 10 of the different communities in which Air Products operates.
This project, the brainchild of Market Research and Strategy Manager and member of the CSI committee, Arthi Govender, was mainly created for two reasons; firstly to make a difference to the education and lives of children in South Africa, as well as to provide Air Products employees with an opportunity to become involved and to truly experience the impact that the company makes with CSI initiatives.
With this project, each of the regions were able to identify a centre in their area with the input of employees and there is a set schedule for when the initiatives takes place – all the regions visits their centres on the same day and at the same time. The project started off with Mandela Day when the centres received blankets and prizes for a colouring competition.
For the second initiative, Literacy Day, each of the centres received books, educational charts and those who do not have tables and chairs received these much needed items as well.
The third initiative in November was a year-end party for each of the centres in the respective areas, complete with clowns, jumping castles, food, party packs, gifts and all the other festive things you will see at a Christmas party. Each child received a gift suited for the specific age and the staff members from the centres were also thanked for their hard work in caring for the children.
Air Products believes that there are definite educational, social and economic advantages to exposing a young child to quality learning at an early age. Exposure to an ECD centre is also to a child’s benefit when they enter the formal education system.
This project is an extension of the CSI strategy which focuses on youth and education in the country. Arthi Govender, Market Research and Strategy Manager comments: “We would like to contribute towards preparing young children for school and a proper education, and by supporting these centres, we are in a position to equip the centres and ultimately the children, with basic equipment and items. With this project, we are looking at each centre individually and where there are additional needs, we look at ways to address it.”
“This is an initiative where employees in the different regions can become involved, spend time with the children and see for themselves how the company is making a difference. We have decided to roll out this project nationally in order to include as many employees as possible. The feedback from the children, teachers and centres has been heart-warming and I am confident that we will see a lot of growth and development at these centres over the next three years.”