Olivia Shaw
Olivia Shaw
South Africa, 2021
My name is Olivia Shaw and on January 13, 2021, I will be hopping on a plane to Cape Town, South Africa to begin work in Woodstock at a group home for immigrant and refugee children. I will be living in Cape Town for about six months and am so excited to see how my work will develop in my time there! Read More About Olivia →

On Duty Recreation

Hello from Cape Town!

In my last post, I spoke about the helping professionals that come together to create what is referred to as the village in which we raise our children here at Lawrence House. These professionals provide a range of services from psychology to medical aid to educational support and so much more. What I want to share now is a little bit about the organizations that support our children emotionally and physically by providing the children with opportunities to experience the fun parts of being a child.These organizations do so by providing recreational activities with a therapeutic lens to allow the children to experience not only a fun day, but also process what they felt while engaging in the activity. This [experiential therapy] is a practice that is beneficial for all children, but especially those who have experienced significant trauma. Many of the organizations that partner with Lawrence House are outreach organizations that specifically target their services towards underprivileged youth or youth who have experienced trauma.

Some of the organizations that support our children through recreational activities and experiential therapeutic services:

The Mountain Club of South Africa provides outdoor recreational excursions such as hiking and studying the plants and animals as they go! Often, these days end with lovely braais (South African BBQ, only much cooler) as well.

Waves for Change provides a child-friendly mental health service to at-risk youth living in unstable communities. Through access to safe spaces, caring mentors, and a provision of weekly Surf Therapy sessions, W4C gives children skills to cope with stress, regulate behaviour, build healing relationships, and make positive life choices.

Dream Higher‘s goal is to bring rock climbing to the vulnerable youth of Cape Town, building confidence, bridging social divides and forming connections with the natural world. They believe that climbing exposes us to a range of emotions such as fear, frustration, pride, and joy; and to manage these emotions we need to learn self control, balance, patience and commitment. They also believe that this journey leads to growth and emotional balance.

Rainbow Dreams Trust reaches out to Lawrence House to send the children to a weekend camp known as Camp Hope on a yearly basis.

Kings Boxing Gym provides fitness and boxing classes for the children of the Salt River and Woodstock community for free!

Black Pool Soccer Club is an organization that was created to allow children the opportunity to play sports in the local Cape Town community.

Royal Sailing Academy is currently not in operation due to Covid-19, however this organization provides the youth courses and training to learn to sail.

La Lela Arts Programis a visual arts program as well as the Children’s Art Center.

Waterfront Theatre has extended a recent partnership to provide dance lessons for the children at Lawrence House!

Raising a child up at the basic level does mean food, shelter, and clothing- but raising a child should also mean providing children the ability to express themselves, to find something they love to do and to let them explore until they find it. It can also mean signing them up for activities just to get them out of the house and give them space to make friends or a space to process whatever they’re feeling. We are so grateful for the organizations that choose to support our children time and time again, and the impact they make on their lives. I’ve witnessed first hand the excitement on the children’s faces when they remember that they have an activity that day or that they have to get ready for soccer. I love the time I get to spend with the children when I walk them to soccer or to a fitness class. I love when our children come home from surfing and tell me that they stood on their board and how happy it made them. I love getting to tell them that I’m so proud of them for doing something hard and doing something brave, and I love trusting that the organizations that they’re going with are providing safe spaces for therapeutic reflection or that there are protective factors in those organizations that are building relationships with our children and providing consistent positive support.

Selfishly, I think I also love getting to bond with the children while doing outdoor activities like hiking or camping or swimming. These soft moments or energetic moments are just as crucial for rapport building and relationship development as supporting them in crisis can be. These spaces are where trust is built. This is where I’m learning good, meaningful work still happens.

In your corner,


P.s. feel free to explore the organizations that support the children at Lawrence House and think about ways in which you can get involved with your local organizations!

P.p.s. here is my workspace when I write my posts at home! I recently received a care package with some wonderful letters from friends in Nashville. 🙂

At Lawrence House, we recently had a going away party for the Manager as she was promoted to a new position. We decorated the whole home for the occasion! 

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