'Pretoria, South Africa: Woolworths announced today that they are extending their “Making The Difference” programme to include 300 schools from the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town areas, once again putting their full support behind uplifting education in South Africa. After successfully launching the “Making The Difference” pilot programme to 180 schools throughout Cape Town and Johannesburg earlier this year, Woolworths through the Woolworths Trust is now moving into the second phase of the programme, with the number of participating schools changing from 180 to 300. 1/3 of those schools have been specially selected by the Woolworths Trust, representing the under-resourced schools. Through their participation in MySchool, a programme launched in 1997 that encourages supporters to raise funds for schools, Woolworths entrenched their commitment to education in South Africa. In the last year alone Woolworths has contributed more than R3 million rand across participating schools nationwide. The “Making The Difference” programme is an innovative educational initiative and a natural extension of the MySchool project that Woolworths is driving nationally through their stores. To Woolworths “Making The Difference” is all about adding value, not only to their clientele, but also to the greater South African community. “Making The Difference” focuses on sharing Woolworths’ extensive knowledge around good food and nutrition. The programme takes a holistic approach to teaching learners the theory and showing them how it works in real life. “Making The Difference” has been designed with Grade 4 learners in mind and also targets their educators and parents. Schools participating in the “Making The Difference” programme receive a resource pack, which has grown from six modules for the pilot programme to seven modules in the new resource packs. Woolworths in conjunction with the Sports Science Institute and Western Cape Education Department, has developed the resource packs in line with the current curriculum. The pack supports the teaching of Health Education and Physical Development as well as elements within Natural Science and Technology. It includes training manuals with colour charts, handouts, project suggestions and ideas that learners can apply to their everyday environment. A variety of themes – ‘The importance of a healthy, balanced diet and exercise’; ‘Understanding the nutrients in food’; ‘Food-based dietary guidelines’; ‘Healthy snacking and the healthy lunchbox’; ‘The benefits of exercise and physical activity’; and ‘Health and the environment, including food safety, labelling and packaging’ – make up six of the seven modules. The new module added to the 2005 “Making The Difference” resource pack focuses on the issues of water, more specifically conservation of water. Xena and Torak, two characters developed by Woolworths and used throughout the modules to help learners better understand the various issues, will continue to feature in the resource packs. Each module includes both theory and practise. “Learners are encouraged to apply what they have learned in the classroom and to extend what they have learned into their homes and every day lives”, says Pieter Twine, Head of MySchool at Woolworths. An experiential learning component was also developed as an integral aspect of ‘Making The Difference’. As part of this experiential aspect of the programme, Woolworths facilitates outings for learners to actual production areas, farms, suppliers and Woolworths stores. The aim is to show learners how everything they have learned is applied in practice. “The ‘Making The Difference’ pilot programme has been extremely successful and we are looking forward to being able to reach even more schools, learners, educators and parents during the second phase of this programme. It has been amazing to observe the learners’ levels of participation and the excitement generated specifically during the experiential component of the programme”, says Twine. Parents are encouraged to participate in the ‘Making The Difference’ journey. Parent talks will once again be hosted at various schools that are participating in the programme. The talks will reflect the modules that are being taught at the schools, with the view of providing practical tools and ideas to parents. ‘The effects of food on behaviour’; ‘Obesity in children’; and ‘Ensuring a healthy balanced diet’ are just some of the topics that guest dieticians will be discussing in 2005. Once again, as in the pilot programme, ‘Making The Difference’ will include a competition element, which encourages learners to visually portray what they have learned throughout the programme. In 2005 learners will be asked to design a story board for a commercial that Xena and Torak will be able to take back to their planet, showing what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. “The Woolworths Trust has committed to continuously improving the ‘Making The Difference’ programme and is hoping to take the programme to 400 schools throughout South Africa by 2006”, says Brian Frost, Chairman of the Woolworths Trust and Non-Executive Director of Woolworths. Woolworths is the primary retail partner of MySchool, a national programme managed and owned by Virtual Market Place. All South Africans and South African schools are encouraged to participate in the MySchool programme by contacting MySchool on 0860 100 455 or getting their applications forms from any Woolworths outlet. For more information regarding the Woolworths ‘Making The Difference’ programme, call Woolworths on (021)407-3490.