For the past few years, UTS has offered sport tours and cultural trips for School groups, University / Colleges and Sports teams from around the world, and has facilitated over 14 such trips in the past few years. This year we built a new relationship with an American group from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). The 15 students and their teacher had been preparing for this trip for a number of months, taking a leadership course and weekly classes on South Africa. Their main reason for the tour, other than the cultural aspect, was to get involved with a local community and impart their knowledge and resources to make a positive change in the lives of the people in the community.
After much deliberation, UTS decided that the Langbos Community Centre would be the best project for the UCO group. In a small rural community near Addo, the centre includes the Intsikelelo Daycare (which has about 30 children aged 3-6 years attending daily), a soup kitchen (feeding up to 150 residents of the community) a mobile clinic to administer ARVs for the HIV+ residents and a daily after school club for the older kids from the surrounding area. The Langbos community is severely deprived, with a high rate of unemployment and HIV and AIDS. Most of the residents are seasonal farm workers and are out of work in the first 5 months of the year. It is in these months that the centre feels the pressure as all parents send their kids to the day-care centre so they can at least receive one meal for the day.
The focus of the trip would be to build some wooden benches for the clinic waiting room, to work with the young children of the day care focusing on basic English and Maths, to support the local teachers with new learning aids and training in how to use them and to provide an after school sports programme for the older kids. After receiving this information, the group went all out in collecting puzzles, display charts and all sorts of useful material for the day-care as well as doing research on DIY bench designs.
When the group arrived instant bonds were built with the kids, and as the students’ sunglasses proved to be a hit with the kids, it was impressive to see the students take note of this need and quickly make some paper sunglasses for the kids to keep. A very innovative group of students indeed!
The week saw the students do some teaching of the alphabet and phonics and the five senses to the kids and a lot of playtime in-between where song and dance were the order of the day! To break the intense learning, the students had a couple of creative sessions with the kids making puppets and other forms of art. To better communicate with the kids, the UCO students really stretched themselves learning basic phrases throughout the week in the local language, Xhosa. Throughout all of this, the DIY project was on track and going very well for the first time bench-makers who (upon completion) felt inspired to start up a little DIY business back home! Once they saw their finished products, the guys were very proud of their achievement.
Of course a week is not complete without any sport in the UTS camp, so in the afternoons- when the older kids arrived from school, the UCO students had fun teaching the kids some American sports like baseball and American Football, with equipment they had brought with them.
A very fulfilling week for the UCO guys, packed with the project work and excursions including wild life viewing, dune boarding and African dancing, ended with an authentic African meal of roast lamb and Kudu Pie, under the stars.
It was hugely successful for both parties and as a result this could be the start of a series of annual trips from Oklahoma. The trip would not have been possible without our partner agent in America, United Planet. Previously, they have sent us individuals for our volunteer program, but we can safely say the pioneer group trip was a huge success and we look forward to having more of these!
“It’s been an inspiring week for us, we had no idea of the impact that we could make in a short space of time, but also feel like we need to come back for longer and build upon the foundations we have laid with this trip, we’ll definitely be back.” – Dr Jarrett Jobe, Leader of University of Central Oklahoma Group
Last October brought around the 4th annual visit from Wellington College’s Social Apprentices. Each year for the past four years has seen Wellington send a group of young socially conscious pupils to work within the United Through Sport programmes, with a focus on creating a legacy from each trip through providing useful facilities and lasting relationships with their South African peers.
Past trips have seen the group build a kitchen, a gym facility and a computer room for the UTS School of Excellence Programme. This group’s focus was creating a vegetable garden that would supply the UTS kitchen with enough vegetables on an on-going basis to feed the 90 Junior School of Excellence (JSE) Programme participants on a daily basis, thus providing further sustainability to the programme.
The 40 Wellington pupils and four teachers along with their 40 JSE buddies worked tirelessly for four days to turn an unused patch of land into a huge vegetable garden capable of producing 10 kg of vegetables per week, including Carrots, Spinach, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beans and lettuce. The garden was also fitted with four 5000 litre water tanks and irrigation network to use the water collected from the school roof to keep the plants watered.
Apart from the success of the vegetable garden, the Wellington group also formed lasting relationships with their ‘buddies’. This programme saw them spending the week interacting with kids from the JSE programme who have been put forward for Senior School of Excellence (SSE) scholarships for next year, with the aim of improving their communication skills and broadening their horizons. The week’s activities saw them spending time coaching sports at Emzomcane Primary School, visiting Langbos crèche near Addo, visiting Kayalethu Boys Haven and bowling with their buddies, before ending the week with an overnight trip to the Shamwari Conservation Experience.
The 2013 Wellington group were so successful with their fundraising that they far surpassed the total needed for the Vegetable garden and were able to sponsor a further 5 children in the SSE programme for this year. This is added to the two currently being sponsored all the way through high school by Stanley House from the College.
“This year’s group from Wellington added such a valuable contribution through the garden, through the buddy relationships and through the funds raised for scholarships! Their annual trip has become an integral part of our programmes!” – Nosipho ‘Spakes’ Xapile – Program Manager, Junior School of Excellence Programme.
“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.
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