In April 2007, 27 girls and boys aged 10-12 years, mainly residents at Imizamo Yethu informal housing settlement in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, walked an average of 1.5 km to the Hout Bay Community Cultural Centre to attend the BodyTalk Access training course.

A picture based manual was used, rather than the word based manual, generally used for adults, and in no time at all the kids were practising the techniques on themselves and friends. It was incredible to see the visible difference in the children on the 2nd day as their facial expressions where more animated, they had more colour in their faces, there was a reduction in their visible stress levels and hearing their feedback on how they had slept more comfortably and woken feeling energized. A higher level of course participation with more manageable behaviour was also evident during the 2nd day of the course – all this and more after having learnt the first few Access techniques on day 1!. Ongoing practice sessions will be arranged with this group of children to encourage them to utilize the Access techniques regularly and in all spheres of their lives as the known benefits are far reaching and include: enhanced concentration and memory, reduced stress levels, better utilization of available water and nutrition within the body, enhanced immune system functioning and positive results in scholastic/work performance, and more relaxed behaviour, to name a few. The joy expressed by the children at being able to take home their picture based manuals, which they had helped to assemble, and their certificates for having completed the Access course was palpable and invigorating. The 2 days provided many learning opportunities for the children, the Access Trainer and her assistants. With the assistance of funding it is hoped that future courses can be presented to other children and adults within all spheres of the community.

Debbie Zacharias, Occupational Therapist