Many of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds so Lovy encourages them to develop their self-love and to use this strength in their environment. Work with the mirror, using exercises from the Lovy book, promotes self-awareness and can help a child to deal with a negative self-image. Lovy is aimed at all children aged five to ten years.(Images: Lovy – Loves You)MEDIA CONTACTS • Dee Boehner Kidz2Kidz Trust+27 83 460 4449RELATED ARTICLES• Giving children a sense of pride• The right to dignity• Let’s learn and honour Children’s Act• Pupils get a lesson on dignity• Putting children’s rights firstCadine PillayAccording to life coach Annett Burmester, without knowing it, we often live what is expected of us and not what we truly want. We focus too much on others when it is important to understand our needs, fears and feelings, to recognise our beliefs and behaviour patterns.“What about your attitude towards yourself and your life?” This is the message Burmester wishes to convey to children with backgrounds that often demoralise them.Giving children a chanceOriginally from Germany, Burmester met Dee Boehner, founder of the Cape Town-based Kidz2Kidz Trust, in February 2010 while volunteering with the Santa Shoebox Project in the city.“I fell in love with Cape Town and the city gave me so much which I felt compelled to give back,” Burmester says.As a life coach, the main focus of Burmester’s work is teaching self-love, which is the most important inner strength for more happiness in life. She is also an illustrator, designer and author working on a book about self-love – a perfect mix to create a new project for the children in need.Boehner then proposed the creation of a short book to illustrate the idea of self-love. So Burmester wrote a story book with the character called Lovy, designed the Lovy toy and came up with the name which derives from “Loves You”.Born in South Africa, Lovy is the character portrayed as the hero in the books, and the figure is aimed at all children aged five to ten years to show them how loveable they are.The Lovy books contain a moral lesson, which will help the kids to become more aware of themselves.“It is a good way to allow them to start realising ‘that’s me’ and ‘I am important’,” Burmester says.The story has been written in three languages English, Afrikaans, Sesotho and isiXhosa. More Lovy books in different languages will be available in the future.In 2011 Lovy was run as a pilot project in the Western Cape and in 2012 launched successfully in Gauteng. The intention is to expand the Lovy project around the country.Burmester also holds follow-up sessions, where social workers sit in, with any child who needs additional coaching.Increasing self-esteem Burmester went on to develop Lovy as a special coaching project for children living in children’s homes and orphanages to help them to build their self-esteem and realise their potential. The project carries out group workshops using the Lovy Kit which comprises a Lovy book, a mirror and the cuddly toy called Lovy.“The Lovy toy is important because children need something to cuddle,” Burmester adds. “Having Lovy will give them a feeling of security and warmth. Lovy is like a friend who is always with them and listening to their feelings. They often own nothing, not even a toy.”The Lovy toys are made by seamstresses in the townships which provide opportunities for employment and empowerment.During the workshops Lovy shows children that they are loveable, unique and special. Work with the mirror, using exercises from the Lovy book, promotes self-awareness and can help a child to deal with a negative self-image.“Mirrors are often absent in children’s homes and orphanages. We use the mirror so that the children can say ‘I love me’ – using their very own name, looking into the mirror,” explains Burmester.“Nobody can take away their pain, but they will learn to love themselves and thus gain more and more self-confidence every day.”The mirrors are made from recycled materials by the children as part of the Art2Kidz Project to involve them creatively in the Lovy intiative.The right to be loved and respected“We all have the right to be loved and respected,” says Burmester. “We need to give these children a chance for a better and peaceful world. They are our future too.”Many of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds so Lovy encourages them to develop their self-love and to use this strength in their environment.“These children have experienced more violence than luck or love in their young lives,” she says. “We show them how they can develop their love of self and use this strength in their environment.”Lovy is orange which is the colour for children as it symbolises joy and confidence. In colour therapy, the colour orange is used to help overcome psychological and mental exhaustion.“Its purpose is to bring more love and happiness into their lives as they are abandoned, afraid, unloved and hurt,” says Burmester. “They will learn to believe in themselves and live again. It will also teach them that we all have a great deal of love in ourselves and that there is nothing wrong with being an orphan.“It touches me again and again when I see how these children soak up Lovy’s message and how they integrate this into their lives.”The Lovy days coincide with 14 February, Valentine’s Day. They are celebrated in children’s homes and orphanages with workshops that share the message: “You are loveable, unique and special”.