The right course can boost a teen or families ability to face choices in just a few weeks. Hope House runs the Better Life Choices and Strengthening Families courses all over Cape Town.

Denim or sequins, skateboard or guitar, silent or screaming, friends or enemies? We all make choices every few minutes…but teenagers are often making life-changing choices for the very first time. That place somewhere between childhood and adulthood can be a very risky one. After a decade of offering affordable counselling to those who need it most in Cape Town, Hope House knows that our youth need to know their power to make better choices.
The “Better Life Choices” course runs in certain high schools all over Cape Town and is a powerful way to introduce teens to their power to choose.


 Better Life Choices Courses

Better Life Choices welcomes teens into a safe place where they can learn about how to make choices for a successful future. The 8 week programme is for Youth At Risk, who may need help expressing themselves and understanding the power of their choices to shape their lives – for good or bad. We hope to Equip, Motivate and Educate youth through this powerful course. We equip them with tools to better manage their emotions, we motivate them towards their future and we educate them about the importance of values, goals and the pitfalls that might occur. The 8 week programme is currently being run with primary schools and we suggest that the learners are in Grade 4 – 7. This is an age of 10 – 14. at Primary Schools in areas like Kuils River and the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town.

Each Better Life Choices group has 10 learners in it and we now run one group per school per term. We currently serve 3 schools in Kuils River and 2 schools in the Southern Suburbs. Of course we would love to serve more schools, we receive many requests for Better Life Choices youth courses from many schools, but due to limited resources we can only offer it to a select number of schools.

Where are we running the Better Life Choices Programme in 2017? 

The course did not run in 2016, but fresh funding in 2017 has enabled us to extend the course to 5 schools. The funding also has allows us to extend the Better Life Choices Course to few schools in the Table View area. The courses have been reintroduced at the request of schools who said it had great impact, improving learner’s behaviour even from the start. We would love to be able to offer this valuable course to more schools – so permanent funding for the courses is near the top of our Hope House wish list. Contact us if you would like to fund this course or sponsor a school.


 What is the Better Life Choices Programme all about? The power of Choice

In a second a teen’s life can be shaped or harmed: a few words can form a threat, a movement of a hand can turn into a blow, the word “Yes” can lead to drug use, theft or worse. This course uses open discussion, role playing and internal reflection to grow and develop youth ability to understand and make choices. The course also gives youth 45 minutes a week where they feel special, with plenty of attention focused on them. The difference this can make to a youth’s self esteem is huge, which goes on to positively impact their ability to make good healthy choices which align to a good self image.


Identity development 
“Who am I?” “What matters to me?” “Where does my worth come from?” These questions go into the choices we make because the things we choose help to serve our identity. If we feel that money gives us worth, we may choose to take desperate short-cuts to get it (even illegally). Media voices often send the message that physical appearance is more important than compassion, generosity and spending time with one’s family. The course helps teens to discus their identity, self image and self esteem.


Anger – lets manage it!
Controlling anger isn’t just about counting to ten. Anger is a very valid emotion on a spectrum of emotions. There is no danger in feeling or experiencing anger- its human. It also may be ‘righteous anger – anger that is fully founded or in response to a boundary being crossed or in protection against someone else. It is the actions we take in order to express that anger that can cause destruction, violence and broken relationships. This course helps teens to slow down the moments when they feel anger so that wise choices can be made in those split seconds. We also encourage helpful outlets for negative emotions – sports, creativity and writing can be used to express anger and the range of emotions (shame, fear, sadness) around it.


Our Strengthening Families programme welcomes families to a programme that helps shape each family by encouraging better communication, growing understanding and understanding roles that family members play. The Strengthening Families Programme offers support to families and helps them to be more united as a family. As the family becomes strengthened the hope is that the risk of substance use is reduced and other harmful behaviours prevented. This program builds resilience in families, which is known to act as a protection against substance abuse as well as child abuse.
Parent role models
Most South African homes are run by single mothers (only 33% of children in South Africa live with both parents). Research has shown that children who have an absent fathers have 5 times the average suicide rate, 32 times the average rate of incarceration, increased risk of depression, far higher rate of substance abuse and higher divorce rate and issues around relationships. Understanding the power of our parent role models – good or bad – helps teens to be aware of how that power may shape their choices in future.
family-therapy-teens-cape-townHow is the Strengthening Families Programme offered?
The programme welcomes families with children ranging from birth to age 16. When we run the courses we break it into young families (children aged 0-3), families with Primary school age children (children aged 6-11) and families with Teens (children aged 12- 16) Currently we are offering the program for families with children aged 6 – 11 years. Usually these children are doing the Better Life Choices Course or the Intervention Programme at school but we also extend it to other parents at that school. The Strengthening Families Programme course helps to reinforce what they are learning and align it with their own families values. It is an 8 session course, usually run over 8 weeks.
Hope House carries the training rights for the Strengthening Families Programme in Africa – developed overseas. Contact us if you would like to run the programme in a community near you.
A focus of this family strengthening course: 

Communication and Quality TimeFamilies are encouraged to boost their communication skills with practical methods that are easy to apply. Weekly Family meetings are a key way that families can improve communication. Its here that positive feedback, problem issues and family schedules and planning can be shared. Many misunderstandings can be avoided with regular family meetings. QUality time together is another family must-have. Spending time outdoors, doing hobbies or going on a special outing (even if that is just to go for an ice cream) help to bond the family and create memories. Addressing chores also helps to build a family as it becomes more functional and even younger family members learn about responsibility and team work.

Training the Trainers – Taking Strengthening Families Programme far and wideHope House is passionate about spreading the impact of this powerful family building course. Hope House Founder, Judy Strickland trains facilitators around the country on how to run the SFP program and then offers follow-up monitoring. The City of Cape Town have recognised the value of this program and Judy trains their Community Workers in the program and they run it in their Districts.


family-support-group-therapyStrengthening Families – feedback

We always receive great feedback about the dramatic difference the course is making to the families in the communities. Many have remarked on the difference this program has made in the way their family relate to one another, others have mentioned that they had never before realised that their children did good as well as bad behaviour. Youth have benefitted from the fact that their parents now listen to them, and youth feedback that they love the extra time their parents are now spending with them. With so many families the desire to love, communicate well and spend quality time is there – they simply need practical steps on how to make that a reality.

Hope House is passionate about bringing life changing courses to the communities and youth of Cape Town. We can only work as far and wide as funds allow though, so if you would like to organise a fundraiser or have a connection to a youth NPO who would like to partner with us, please get in contact with Hope House.