ZipZap Circus during Corona Part 1
Review of Corona Lockdown Part 1
The first lockdown in March 2020
Due to the Corona Pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, our ZipZap programs were suspended. For us, the biggest challenge was continuing to engage participants* in a meaningful way. Individual challenges included lack of space, structure, and time. The biggest issue, however, was the sense of isolation we all felt during the pandemic.
Faced with uncertainty about whether our programs would continue in the near future, we began to expand digitally. The team wanted to focus on both digital training opportunities and the individual needs of participants. To that end, our program team launched a “call campaign” with a questionnaire.
The responses showed that the biggest challenge was the lack of Wi-Fi access. A ZipZap fundraiser raised more than 50,000 rand. This allowed us to maintain contact with our students and continue their education. In addition, because many parents were no longer able to work, many of the participants lacked access to essential goods. We responded to this by distributing food and hygiene packages. We were able to provide these through the cooperation and donations of Johnson & Johnson and Community Chest.
The delivery of D2D had to change significantly because there was no longer face-to-face instruction. We focused on expanding the programs into the digital space. This was a new area for both students and the entire program team. To introduce virtual meetings, training, homework and assignments, Whats App- groups were optimized. Other social also helped to physically engage participants. We introduced a schedule that included 4 hours of daily attendance. The schedule allowed time for participants to attend to personal obligations and provided space to manage the emotional demands of the new reality.
Management met virtually with students weekly to socialize and provide guidance. Students shared their concerns and fears and provided feedback on progress and schedule challenges. During Zoom calls, students were excited to share ideas with each other and with Zip Zap teachers.
Return to ZipZap in August 2020
Upon returning to D2D the participants were not fit. However, all soon regained the physical strength to successfully participate in the program. The psychological impact of the lockdown meant that participants had to invest additional time in a new focus. To minimize the risk of infection, this included social distancing, masks, regular disinfecting, and prescribed exercise clothing. This presented renewed challenges for the program. To ensure social distance, classes were divided among different components.
The renewed lockdown in January 2021
Following the President’s Address to the Nation on January 11, 2021, COVID-19 Level 3 was implemented nationwide. The safety of our employees, students and participants is of paramount importance to us! Act in the best interest of all stakeholders. Therefore, we postponed the start of the 2021 programs.
Even during this lockdown, we maintained contact with all stakeholders. Due to the digital structures, it was easier this time. Once again, we conducted an online “check-in.” Thus, all forms are complete at the beginning of the programs and we can start right away!
Most importantly, however, we expressed our support- Thus, the will of all stakeholders to return to the Zip-Zap programs remained intact. Because even through all the lockdowns and hard times of the past few months, we are still a ZipZap family.