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Teach me to hula-hoop!

children’s hulahooping skills
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/C.Bach
At Bairro 3 da Cidade School in Chibuto, the children’s hulahooping skills are impressive. The bright, neon-coloured rings are so popular that the district invites students to showcase their talents at official events.

Grains of sand inside the hula-hoops create a characteristic sound, which can be heard all over Bairro 3 da Cidade. As soon as the bell rings for a break, the children run out of their classrooms to grab their favourite colour; the pink, yellow, green and blue rings spread out over the schoolyard, filling the air with a swooshing sound.

Tarcizia Narcizo Nguzi is 8 years old, and busy hula-hooping. "I have already done it ten times today!" she says, showing off how she can spin the plastic ring around her waist, her arm, her neck and her leg. "I will be a doctor when I grow up, and I will tell my patients to play with hula-hoops! My teacher says it is good for the body."

The school's physical education teacher, Jose Carlos Manhica, incorporates hula-hoops daily into his work. "We have received more than 50 of them as part of our sports kit from the Child-Friendly Schools initiative. They provide an easy and fun means of activity for the children, and there are many kinds of exercises one can do with them. For our circumstances, it is perfect."

Director of Pedagogy Joana Francisco Cuna says she is pleased with the physical education and sport classes. "Children love to play, and it keeps them healthy. Our school is always invited to present a show whenever there are events in the district. We are very proud of the children, and of our school," she says.

Both she and Mr. Manhica have noted that the school has started to attract younger children since the physical education and sport initiative started. "Look at this boy, for example," Mr. Manhica says, pointing to Eugenio Romeo Machava: "he started coming here two years before beginning school!" Eugenio smiles shyly. "It's true. I had friends here, and I wanted to play with the hula-hoops. There was no problem, I could be here and the students taught me how to use the rings. I was really looking forward to starting school."

This is exactly what Mr. Manhica wants to highlight, because he has been a teacher at Bairro 3 da Cidade for 10 years, and has witnessed a change. "We definitely have more children in the schoolyard now than before. The younger children come to play, and they even participate in the physical education classes from a distance. What is most important though is that they are getting used to school and to being here. The colours of the hula-hoops attract them, and they get to know the older children. All of this greatly facilitates their adjustment in the first months of school."

"And I can do it like this as well!" Tarcizia shouts to us from a distance, hula-hooping with her knees.

 

 

 

 

Child-Friendly Schools: Stories from Mozambique

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