The development of a coping and life skills programme for adolescents in a rural area / Chantelle A. du Plessis
Du Plessis, Chantelle Aretha
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The purpose of this study was to determine the sources of stress, support systems, coping strategies and psychological well-being of adolescents in a rural area, and to use this information to develop a coping and life skills programme. While all families face stressor events and crises, some are more likely than others to experience a series of challenges that threaten their functioning. Rural families often face a greater variety of stressor events on a more continues basis than do families in metropolitan areas (Dyk, 2003). Rural families do not have as many resources and services available lo address their problems as do urban families (Deavers & Hoppe, 2001). Farm schools suffer from a variety of shortages. Many schools suffer from a pressing shortage of space and educational aids and in most cases there is only one teacher for every 50 learners (Van Kleist, 2002). Some of the learners have to walk more than 1Okm to school everyday because of the lack of transport. Most schools lack proper sanitation and electricity. Recreational and cultural activities are curtailed through shortages of equipment and suitable locations. Education in life skills may contribute to the enhancement of life quality, The development of constructive coping strategies protects mental health and enhances bio psycho- social well-being in times of high stress. Previously it was assumed that each individual acquired these skills as part of growing up. Alas, the truth is that many people do not cope with life and never learned these skills. These skills should therefore be taught in a direct and systematic way, rather than being left to be learnt incidentally. The qualitative research design was based on a sample of 56 male and female adolescents between 1 2 and 16 years of age. The adolescents were from four farm schools situated in the Potchefstroom area. Sixteen learners were randomly selected for semi-structured interviews to obtain basic information for the pilot study. Approximately 37 learners took part in the programme. The learners attended Grades 4-7. The deve1opment of the programme was done in five phases. During phase one semi structured interviews were held with some of the learners. During phase two the interviews were evaluated thematically, The data was then organized into conceptual categories and was then analyzed. During phase three the programme was developed according to the themes derived from phase two. In phase four the programme was presented at the schools as a trial test. During phase five the programme underwent some changes according to the findings in phase four. The development of the programme went well, however presenting the programme was a more demanding task. Almost none of the participants could properly speak or understand Afrikaans or English.
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