Dec 19, 2012

It Takes a Community to "Just Do It"

Mentoring in Schools
Mentoring in Schools

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!

Activity: Learning about HIV and AIDS
Activity: Learning about HIV and AIDS
I Made Them Do Jumping Jacks for This Photo Shoot
I Made Them Do Jumping Jacks for This Photo Shoot
Sep 25, 2012

Wildlife Experience for JSE Beneficiaries

Close-Up with the king of the jungle
Close-Up with the king of the jungle

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. 

Tisetso enjoying lunch at KFC
Tisetso enjoying lunch at KFC
Lunch Time
Lunch Time
May 17, 2012

Junior School of Excellence

board games to increase their vocabulary
board games to increase their vocabulary

The start of 2012 marked the beginning of a new program at United Through Sport; the Junior School of Excellence (JSE). This is an after-school program based at Isaac Booi, a school in the disadvantaged communities of Port Elizabeth that we have worked with for the past 6 years. Children from the Zwide community are invited to partake in the sports development, personal mentoring, academic support as well as life skills that are offered in this program over a one year period.

From our Mass Participation Program, children are identified for their dedication and commitment to the program, as well as their sporting ability. UTS also works with local sports federations to identify talented children to partake in the JSE. A thorough selection process is done, which includes home visits to assess the situation at home and have a better understating of the family background. At UTS, we aim to have a personal relationship with each and every child in the JSE program to better understand the behaviour patterns and personalities of the children. On a daily basis, the children also receive a nutritional meal in the program. This on its own is an incentive for some of the children not to miss a day’s attendance.

During their year long program at the Junior School of Excellence, these children will have the opportunity to be trained by top sports coaches, play in challenging fixtures, receive mentoring and academic support as well as inter-act with International volunteers who play a big role in boosting the confidence and English skills. The beneficiaries of this program are children that come from the poorest backgrounds in broken homes and go to disadvantaged schools. The JSE therefore provides a platform for these children to be developed holistically as well as be exposed to opportunities they may not have had otherwise. As part of the program, these children will have the opportunity of meeting and inter-acting with some of their local sport role models, who also come from similar backgrounds. This will mean a lot to these children as it will give them hope for a bright future and a drive to succeed.

At the end of the year, a selected number of graduates will move on to the next level, the Senior School of Excellence (SSE), where they will be afforded scholarships to Former Model C schools for their high school career. At the SSE they will receive top level teaching, highly intense sports coaching and they will school with children from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Most importantly their chances of going on to University will rise from 3% (the township norm) to 98% (the norm for fomer model c schools in this area).

Towards the end of last year, UTS donated a series of encyclopedias to Isaac Booi Primary School. The donation was a great way of strengthening the relationship with the school. Having such useful sources of information for the children would not only add value to our project, but to the school as a whole. The principal of Isaac Booi, Mr Mtyobo, was thrilled to receive the latest addition to the school library (a beautifully painted container in the school yard as there is not a library facility in the actual school building). It is “normal” school infrastructure such as a school library, school hall and sports facilities which are standard at Former Model C schools but are rarely seen in township schools. Through programs such as our Junior School of Excellence we aim to afford all children these opportunities, reaching out to the poorest families.

volunteers assist with academics
volunteers assist with academics
feeding scheme
feeding scheme
board games to stimulate their minds
board games to stimulate their minds
encyclopedia donation to the school
encyclopedia donation to the school
sports training
sports training
 
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