At the end of the last month we were priveledged to attend the Beyond Sport Awards in Chicago. The Awards selected a final shortlist of 40 projects from 400 entries around the globe. The Hope Academy project was entered into the Social Inclusion category but we sadly did not win the award. The expierence was very beneficial as we networked with other sports development projects around the globe and we were also involved in workshops and leadership training.
Through the conference we were excited to learn that our prison Academy project is very unique and is one of it's kind worldwide! We shared the concept with other people and they could not believe the freedom we have in transferring young men from other prisons and selecting our players. We believe we have been given a great opportunitiy in this program and through our hard work Correctional Services have seen the benefit of what we are doing.
Here are some statistics from our Drakenstein Academy to show what the young men who have graduated from our projects are doing outside of prison. We have had 19 young men released since we launched in 2008.
32 % Studying
10 % Lost Contact
10% Back in Prison
We are excited about how our young men are developing since being released from prison. In South Africa the average recidivism (return to prison) rate of prisoners is 85%. Through our tough discipline, love and holisitic program these young men are truly changing and becoming responsible citizens once released.
We have also developed a strong relationship with the College of Cape Town who offer skills training courses for our young men once released. We have 3 young men signed up already and have courses ready for some of our graduates at the end of this year. This will provide the young men with practical qualifications and job opportunities that will help them lift out of poverty.
Finally one of our Academy members Jacobus Adonis was released this month. Jacobus was one of our brightest star's this year after being transferred from Mossel Bay prison which is 4 hours away from Drakenstein. Jacobus was heavly involved in the 28 gang but transformed his life this year when he joined the Academy. We have linked him to one of our partner churches in George where he lives. This year I personally saw how Jacobus left the gang, changed his life through professing a Christian faith, impacted the whole Academy and showed a strong desire to work within his community once released. This is why the Hope Academy exisits, to see more young men like Jacobus and others have a second chance in life and take it with both hands. There is no better reward than seeing a young life touched and transformed!
Thanks for your continued support and we need your support for the program to continue next year and for us to manage and support the young men once released. Please get in touch if you can assist in anyway.
On Wednesday the 21st of July the academy received a visit from Ajax Cape Town. Ajax are one of the top professional clubs in South Africa and have produced players like Steven Piennar (Everton and South Africa) and Enoch Eyong (Ajax Amsterdam & Cameron). Ajax came and ran a coaching clinic and then played a match against the Academy. We were surprised to learn the head coach of Ajax, Foppe de Hann was going to put out his first team against the Hope Academy. The match was played at a high tempo and many of the Academy players had fantastic games and we only lost 1:0. Ajax then visited the cell where the boys sleep in the prison and learnt more about the program and what they are learning in the academy. The day was a huge success and Ajax said they would like to do more work with the Academy in the future.
AYOBA! The question always posed during the 2010 World Cup was “can you feel it?” Well, we definitely felt it in the Hope Academy program across South Africa! Please take a few minutes to read about some of the events that took place over the World Cup.
CYCLE FOR HOPE
The Cycle for Hope team arrived at Drakenstein Hope Academy in Cape Town on the 9th of June. The team had cycled down from Morocco through to Cape Town over 6 months to raise support for the Hope Academies in South Africa. One of the cyclists Jan said the following: “When we arrived I saw the Hope Academy at work with young men in Drakenstein Prison and heard the difference it has made to their lives -they have a creed, “Faith, Future and Football”. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!” We would like to thank all the cyclists for the sacrifices they made and for supporting the work amongst young men and women around South Africa.
Over the World Cup we had many people come and visit our projects nationwide. It was great to also receive some media attention and we had both ABC News and SABC 2 do programs on the Academies. The great thing to come from this was the testimonies of the boys we work with. The ABC News reporter asked one young man in our Academy “what is more important to you, football or your faith?” the young man replied “I can live without football but I cannot live without God!” We thank God for the testimony that was shared in these two broadcasts. You can check out the ABC News report below.
We were privileged to have both Adam and James Chambers visit our Drakenstein Hope Academy project over the World Cup. James plays for Doncaster Rovers and Adam for Leyton Orient in the UK. Both players shared their story about how they became professional players, they also ran training sessions and James shared about his faith in Jesus and how that has brought a change in his life and his football career. We also had 1000 kits donated to AIS from Doncaster Rovers and these were handed out all over South Africa and to the whole prison academy in Drakenstein. It was an honor to work alongside two humble pro players who wanted to give up their holiday to impact many young men. Both Adam and James made a huge impact and we hope they will come back to work with us further in the future, we wish them all the best for the new football season.
We thank God for the opportunities he is bringing to AIS. In June we were placed on the shortlist for the Beyond Sport Global Awards. Approx 350 projects were entered world wide and the top 33 were selected. We were placed in the top 5 in the Social Inclusion category. One of our staff members will be flown to the summit in Chicago on the 24th of Septembertop sports development leaders in the world. We will receive 4 days of training and development and the winners from each category will be announced.
Beyond Sport also sent a representative to visit both our Soweto and Leeuwkop Academies in Johannesburg. Her report of the visit can be found on: http://www.beyondsportworld.org/member/discussion/index.php?Id=929
COLLEGE OF CAPE TOWN
We are excited to announce our partnership with the College of Cape Town. Before the World Cup we met at the COCT Head Campus to discuss skills training for boys who come out of the prison Hope Academies. The College have agreed to seek government funding to train our young men who have a Std 8 in a number of different courses. This is an exciting development for us as we look to equip the young people for their future. We hope this will make a big difference in preventing young men returning to prison.
The Drakenstein Hope Academy has had 19 boys released since it was launched in 2008. Through our follow up and contact we have measured the impact of the Academy. This is what we found out:
21% are studying
26% are employed
21% are unemployed
21% are unknown (we have lost contact)
11% are back in prison (2 boys, one broke parole the other re-committed a crime).
We hope to improve this through our partnership with the College as many of our boys unemployed will sign up for the courses offered. It is encouraging to see only 11% of the young men returning to prison, the general stat is 85% of inmates return to prison once released. We can only thank God for this.
AFTER 2010 WC!
It is our aim to continue developing the Hope Academies nationwide. Our Soweto Academy will be launched officially on the 7th of August. This is an exciting development and the academy is already making a huge impact in the community. You can see the picture of Sam who is an intern and ex-academy member from Leeuwkop Prison Academy coaching at the Soweto Academy.
The prison academies will be doing further trials and recruiting juvenile offenders from other prisons as many of the young men have been released.
Thanks to all of you who have continued to support the work of our Academies in South Africa. We cannot reach our youth with out your continued prayers, love and support.
The Drakenstein Hope Academy was fortunate enough to receive a visit and some soccer training from 2 professional soccer players from the UK. James and Adam Chambers are twins and play for Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient in the English Football League. James shared with the boys the highlight of his career which was playing in the FA Cup Semi Final for Watford and marking Christano Ronaldo!!
James brought 80 jerseys from his team in the UK (Doncaster) and donated them to all the boys in the sports academy.
It was a great time and the young men were encouraged by the visit and meeting 2 professional role models.
The World Cup has given us the opportunity to showcase the work we are doing amongst juvenile offenders in prisons around South Africa.
We have had visitors from all over the world come and encourage the young men in prison. One highlight was having ABC News from the US come and run a story on the positive impact the program has made within the prison. ABC also went into the community to film a young man who had been released from the prison Academy, it was clear for all to see the challenges these young men face once released.
Please continue to support us as we do all we can to help these young men fulfill their dreams and have the opportunities and support all of deserve.
You can catch the program by clicking on the following link:
Also check out the blog from GlobalGiving on the project: http://blog.globalgiving.org/
Thanks, Mark Slessenger
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AIS SA Director