Lifting Dreams stimulates young minds

When we all lend a hand in helping the communities around us, we improve everyone's quality of life. This is what the Lifting Dreams organisation aims to do. Lifting Dreams seeks to transform communities through education – and it should come as no surprise that academics and students from the North-West University (NWU) are part and parcel of this weekly run initiative.

“We have put together a supplementary enrichment programme where we tutor learners in areas such as mathematics and English. We also play games, read books, and encourage them to write stories," says Dr Karen Puren, head of the subject group Urban and Regional Planning, founder member of Lifting Dreams in Potchefstroom, and coordinator of the Ourief programme.

Lifting Dreams, a registered non-profit company that was launched in February 2022, is a volunteer programme run by passionate people wanting to drive positive change.  

Its outreach initiatives in the Potchefstroom area entail tutor sessions at the farm school, Ourief Primary, outside Potchefstroom on Tuesdays and at Ebenezer Creche in Ikageng on Saturdays. Lifting Dreams is part of the national organisation that reaches approximately 450 school learners weekly at underprivileged schools, including schools in Eersterust, Mamelodi and Soweto.

“We involve various stakeholders in the development of our content. After being introduced to the 6BRICKS® initiative by the Faculty of Education, we have successfully incorporated this as part of our programme,” adds Dr Puren.

Feeding the mind and the body

Apart from educating learners, Lifting Dreams Potchefstroom, in collaboration with Urban and Regional Planning, has established a food garden at Ourief Primary School to address their nutritional needs.

Food gardens are a powerful tool in the fight against poverty because they provide a source of nutrition and create opportunities for income generation, skills development and community building, all of which can contribute to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods.

During an environmental day at the school, Dr Puren group of students from Urban and Regional Planning and Lifting Dreams volunteers got their hands dirty and did some gardening.

"We encouraged learners to plant vegetables during an outdoor classroom day, teaching them about nutrition, agriculture and environmental sustainability. The learners discovered how to make compost and organic pesticides, plant seeds and use recyclable containers. They were also given some seeds to plant at home and enjoyed nutritious protein-based shakes and snacks,” adds Dr Puren.

Another highlight of the programme was a visit by South African-born actress Embeth Davidtz, her husband Jason Sloane and son Dylan to Ourief Primary School in July 2023.

At a recent end-of-year closing function at Ourief, the learners exhibited their happiness posters highlighting what difference Lifting Dreams has made in their lives.

"Every small step counts and we should never underestimate the value of the impact it can have,” says Dr Puren. “It is such a gratifying feeling to see the excitement on the children's faces when they see us."

Kindly contact Dr Puren at for further enquiries.

Ourief Primary School principal Jacob Ramotsoela and Dr Karen Puren at the exhibition of happiness posters representing the voices of 73 learners, highlighting what makes them happy.

At Ebenezer Creche, kids are taught mathematics skills through fun activities on Saturdays.

Dylan Sloane with his parents, actress Embeth Davidtz and Jason Sloane. With them are Ourief Primary School principal Jacob Ramotsoela and teachers.

Proud Grade R and Grade 1 learners show off their work at one of the weekly sessions at Ourief Primary School.

Submitted on Fri, 11/17/2023 - 09:09