“The happiest day of my life”! This is how Tazneem, one of our Junior School of Excellence Netball players described taking part in The Color Run, held in Port Elizabeth yesterday. Tazneem was one of 25 children and 17 volunteers from UTS lucky enough to take part in the first ever Color Run on the African continent.
The Color Run, billed as “The happiest 5km on the planet”, is a paint race that celebrates health, happiness, individuality and giving back to the community. So for us it was extremely fitting that we were identified as the Charity partner for the event in Port Elizabeth, as it encompasses many of the values we instill into our sports programmes.
As Charity partner to The Color Run Port Elizabeth we have experienced nothing but fun and happiness since beginning work with the organizers two weeks ago. The Color Run team from Portugal, encompass the attitude of the race with their warm, kind and cheerful nature which made the experience for over 50 volunteers from UTS working with them in the build up and on the day of the race almost as enjoyable as the race itself.
On race day, it was an early start for all the volunteers and the 25 children from our JSE programme to get to The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University by 05h30 to prepare for the days events. Our children enjoyed the race with over 9000 other participants who were all desperate to be a part of this inaugural event in Africa. The race itself was out of this world for the kids, with bursts of color continually filling the air as they ran around the 5km course. Each individual had bags of color powder to throw at each other as well as various ‘Color Stations’ of volunteers shooting color at runners as they passed by. There was more entertainment on the way around with cheerleaders, drummers and fitness instructors all part of the carnival atmosphere willing the runners on.
At the end of the race the festival continued for several hours with music and big screens showing the festivities. One of the highlights for our kids was being called up on stage in front of thousands of other runners to throw more colored powder packets to the cheering participants.
It was a hugely successful day and one that we, and the lucky 25 children from our JSE will never forget. It was a real pleasure to work with The Color Run team and be a part of the event all the way through and as part of the legacy, The Color Run have donated funds to ensure that some of those children who took part in the race yesterday will receive a scholarship to go to a top level high school in 2014. What an amazing day and what an amazing experience!!!
Nothing can beat the proud feeling that parents get based on the success of their children. United Through Sport is extremely proud of Kyra, Storm, Numaan and Kaylin for making the provincial teams in their respective age groups in hockey. Kyra and Storm both made the Eastern Province (EP) U/13 “A” side, with Numaan in the “C” team, while thirteen year old Kaylin made the EP U/14 “A” side.
All four of the children are in the Senior School of Excellence program where they received scholarships to top schools in Port Elizabeth. Coming from disadvantaged schools, it has been a joy for them to play in the best facilities this year where they can capitalize on their talents. Not only did they make the EP teams, but they have proved to be the star players in their school teams, for both their hockey skills as well as their shining personalities.
Kyra, Storm and Numaan are at St George’s Preparatory School and Kaylin is doing her first year at Pearson High School. Kyra has dreams of playing for her beloved country, with a back-up plan of a medical career to please her parents. Also with dreams of playing for South Africa, Storm will settle for coaching the SA team if he cannot make it. His second dream is to be a pilot- so he can fly the team across the world. Numaan would love to represent his country in either hockey or soccer, or play for his favourite soccer team- Barcelona. If the sport career does not work out for him, he wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. Kaylin wants to be a teacher when she finishes school, but her biggest dream is to play for South Africa.
UTS is excited to have such ambitious members in the team, wishes them all the best in their new EP teams and as always we will be there to support them in every way possible!
“I am so happy that I will be representing my province when we play against children from all over South Africa and I am excited about the tours coming up. Today we got some hockey goodies from UTS, and I don’t think any other kids have these hockey sticks!”- Kyra, 12 years old
We are pleased to report on the increasing number of scholarships we are facilitating for children in the townships to go to “former model c schools” where they are exposed to interaction with children from various cultural and racial backgrounds and receive top level education.
Pearson High School in Port Elizabeth was the first school we partnered with; in the year 2010, where we facilitated a rugby scholarship for three boys starting Grade 8. The three boys now only have one more year of school, and they’re all looking forward to life after school and hopefully University education (the first in their families to do so). Since we started this relationship, we have been sending an increasing number of boys and girls to Pearson year after year. This year, we sent a total of 9 children to start Grade 8; giving a total of fifteen children currently on a sport scholarship at this school.
The second school we built a relationship with was Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg, through the Theo Jackson Scholarship Fund. This Fund pays special attention to orphaned children who are highly motivated and have a drive to succeed in life. We currently have one boy at Jeppe, who has evolved into such a young gentleman over the three years he has been there. He has excelled in the classroom and on the sports field representing the school A-teams in both Rugby and Rowing.
The latest relationship is with St George’s Preparatory, in Port Elizabeth. The main difference between this school and the other two is that St George’s is a primary school; therefore accepts younger children for a year or two before they move on to high school. Children selected for this scholarship are at an advantage as they get moulded at an earlier age to adjust from a township school to a multi-racial one, which makes their chances of receiving a scholarship for high school even higher. We sent our first group of children to St George’s this year, two boys and two girls who are all high achievers in sport.
Despite all the talent that exists in the townships, it is extremely difficult for parents to afford schools which can open up opportunities for their children. It is therefore our greatest pleasure to provide the platform for such opportunities. The difference in the quality of education in the township schools and the multi-racial ones is remarkably vast. This therefore means the children need to work especially hard to catch-up, giving extra hours in their days where we provide tutors to assist them with their academics.
It was a lovely reward and incentive for the children when we took all of them to a Super 15 Rugby game at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium between our local team, the Southern Kings and the Sharks, a team from Kwa-Zulu Natal. The children also got to socialise with their international tutors in a more casual environment, outside the classroom. The roles were reversed as the kids were teaching the tutors a thing or two about rugby. It was a great reward for all the hardwork the kids have put in at their new schools in their first term.
“Being at St George’s is hard; we have a lot of work even after school. It’s nice because the teachers help us with our homework. I want to go to Pearson next year because they are good in a lot of sports and I will fit in well.”- Zaryn Peters, UTS Beneficiary, 12 yrs old.
“We, as a family were over the moon when we learnt that my son Numaan would attend a school as prestigious as St George’s Prep. As a parent, you always have big dreams for your children, but being unemployed limits those dreams. With school fees, transport and school uniform arranged for us, we are only left with providing support for him.” – Leonie de Maar, UTS Beneficiary Parent.
Earlier this summer, I visited United through Sports office in Port Elizabeth, where Nick, the founder and executive director, gave me a tour of the facilitites, introduced me (and arranged conversations) with project staff, and even took me to visit their sport programs happening in schools in the community. It was so much fun. And I learned a thing or two from a few of the girls about playing cricket (which I'd never tried before)!
United through Sports is definitely addressing a need in the community: empowerment and education through sports. Via collaborations with the local communtiy, United for Sports runs after school sports programs, which encourages youth being physically fit/active, and creates an avenue through which they can provide education about HIV/AIDs and sexual health.
Additionally, the sports activities also help to identify talented athletes, which they then train and coach to a level that makes them eligible for sports scholarships wihch grant them acccess to better schools. But United through Sports doesn't just stop there. Once their youth are admitted to better schools in the area, they offer aftter-school mentoring, coaching, and tutoring to ensure that their youth get the support they need to succeed through graduation.
They're currently planning to implement their scholarship programs (including the mentoring/tutoring that comes with them) through university level. This, for me, was the most impressive part of the program; that the staff and founder are aware of the social inequtiies that create obstacles for youth even when they're granted opportunities for better education/success. Unitd Through Sports is committed to maintaining their role as a support system for as long as the young people need.
Between meeting the warm, friendly staff, interacting with their international volunteers, and getting a bunch of young girls to do as many jumping jacks for a photo shoot with my digital camera, I had an amazing experience. Check out this short video of some of the girls in the United for Sports program in our failed attempt to say "Love is my Revolution." What a blast we had!
As the term came to the end for a three week school holiday, it was time to reward the Junior School of Excellence (JSE) children for their dedication throughout the term. A big bang at the end of each term is a good way to keep the children motivated. This was also a great way of getting our older Senior School of Excellence (SSE) kids to ‘give back’ by chaperoning the JSE kids and providing some mentorship during the day.
On the 26th June 2012, eleven UTS staff and six SSE kids chaperoned fifty children from the JSE on a trip to Seaview Lion Park. The selection is based on the reward system we use at the JSE for the most consistent attendees. As well as 30 Lions, the park also boasts other big cats such as tigers, leopards, cheetahs and a beautiful panther cub; a rare sight to behold. The children got to see some of their favourite wild animals, and were excited to be in such close proximity to them! Giraffes, zebras, impalas and many more animals freely roam around the park. To make the experience more fun, snacks were prepared for them to enjoy while spotting the wildlife and after leaving the park, everyone was treated to a yummy lunch at KFC!
The day was an amazing start to their holiday and great way for the children to bond with each other, outside the school environment. It was the ideal opportunity for the older SSE children to share information about their experiences of the change from a township school to a multi-racial one, and a great way to keep the younger children inspired to do their best so they could also be selected for the SSE next year.
As the organisation, it is vital for us to engage kids from our programs in fun, social activities; especially activities that are educational and that broaden their perspectives in more ways than one. The day trip to Seaview was much appreciated by the kids; something they will never forget, they couldn’t wait to get home and share their incredible experience with their families!
"After the day I had more knowledge about wild animals. I did not even know the meaning of the word "extinct" and how important it is to look after our natural environment. It was so much fun seeing the wild animals and how beautiful they are when close" - Babalwa Bassie, 13 yeras old.
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