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May 20, 2019

UTS wins International Award to get Girls Moving

HER passion to transform the lives of girls from Nelson Mandela Bay has resulted in a young South African woman winning an international competition, which is co-sponsored by Nike.

United Through Sport co-ordinator Lindiwe Cezula, 22, was announced as one of the winners of the Gurls Talk Made to Play Fund Competition, Women Win in partnership with Nike.

The competition was open to young women under the age of 25 years, whose organisations are based in Ghana, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom, Italy, France and South Africa.
The purpose of the Women Win competition is to support inspirational young women from across the world, to encourage the next generation of girls to get active.

Part of the winning package includes grant funding, active wear and a spot in Women Win's Leadership Development Programme - which will include a trip to Paris, France, in June this year.

“It has always been my passion to create a safe space for us girls to just talk and share all our experiences on the expectations that society has of us. I would like to see the day where the girls own their bodies, the colour of their skin and most importantly, for them to know that they have the body, the mind and the courage; and that they are in charge of it all,” said Cezula.

She plans to utilise the Gurls Talk Made to Play Fund grant to develop a dance programme for United Through Sport’s girls’ empowerment programme, GirlsUnite. The purpose of the dance programme will be to get the girls moving through physical activity, while teaching critical life-skills lessons to boost their confidence, resilience and levels of self-actualisation.

Cezula graduated with her BA degree, majoring in Political Science and Public Administration, from Nelson Mandela University in April this year.

In primary school her netball talents were spotted by United Through Sport Director Nick Mould on a dusty sport field in Zwide. Cezula attended Pearson High School from 2011 – 2014 as part of United Through Sport’s Senior School of Excellence, and in her Matric year received a special award for Perseverance.

“We are extremely proud of Lindiwe. She came into our programme when she was just 11 years old, and to see her grasp the opportunities that have come her way and then complete the circle by giving back to the next generation is hugely inspirational. She encompasses the vision of United Through Sport and is a true example of the potential that exists within the youth of our society if they are just given the right support,” said Mould.

Lindiwe is employed as the Youth1st Network Co-ordinator on a full-time basis at United Through Sport in Port Elizabeth and plans to pursue further studies by doing an Honours degree in Public Administration.

Mar 25, 2019

Girls find the power of their voices

GirlsUnite Graduation
GirlsUnite Graduation

United Through Sport recently celebrated its pilot girls’ empowerment programme with a graduation ceremony hosted at Astra Primary School in Bethelsdorp, Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa.

Here, in their own words, are what some of the girls had to say about the programme:

My Voice matters because I have the right to say no to things.”
“GirlsUnite taught me to speak up.”
“GirlsUnite helped me to share my problems in a safe space with other girls.”
“GirlsUnite helped me through difficult times, when I was in trouble.”
“I learnt that I am strong, brave – I will always be, because of GirlsUnite”.

GirlsUnite has been running at the school since the second semester of 2018, where girls aged between 10 and 14 years from the local community – including girls attending neighbouring schools – were equipped with skills and knowledge to safeguard and empower them to cope with challenges in their socio-economic environment more effectively.

United Through Sport General Manager Spakes Xapile said the programme has achieved rewarding results, with the desired impact on the lives of the girls who graduated.

“We find this to be a critical intervention age, where girls reach puberty and are exposed to many challenges. They do not always feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics with the boys present in class. The programme had excellent results with regards to building the girls’ self-actualization and self-esteem,” said Xapile.

The programme included activities such as sexual health workshops facilitated by graduate counsellors from Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale Psychology Centre; self-defense sessions on physical safety as well as a talk on being safe online by a social media expert. Several guest speakers were invited to address the girls on various topics to empower them.

The theme of all the sessions and outings revolved around the power of the girls’ voices, said GirlsUnite Co-ordinator Cindy Preller.

“The girls became more confident, they know their rights, they know where to turn to for help, and importantly, they are able to share this knowledge with other girls in their families and their communities. It has been amazing to see the transformation in the girls as they find the power of their voices,” said Preller.

United Through Sport would like to thank all the guest speakers and corporate partners who donated of their time and in-kind donations to support the programme. A special thank you to the main funder of the programme: EMpower Innovations Awards through the Estee Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation.

United Through Sport plans to continue with the programme in 2019/2020 and would like to expand it to other schools in Nelson Mandela Bay, as well as include a dance component to the programme, where the girls will learn new life skills through interactive dance moves.

Feb 21, 2019

Oprah Scholar has fantastic first year


A Port Elizabeth girl met Hollywood star Tyler Perry as well Oprah Winfrey – the founder of her school The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG), all in the first year that she started at the prestigious school in Gauteng.

Sisipho, who was part of United Through Sport’s Junior School of Excellence in 2016 and 2017 when she was in Die Heuwel Primary School in Port Elizabeth, has completed her first year at the independent boarding school founded by Oprah Winfrey in 2007.

Currently in Grade 9, Sisipho describes her first year at the school as “truly extraordinary.”

“My first year at OWLAG has been very promising and I am very excited for the journey ahead. I have learnt how to be independent while respecting the value of teamwork. I have learnt a lot about myself and my environment,” said Sisipho.

The OWLAG provides top education from Grade 8 to Grade 12, to academically gifted girls who come from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa. Life at the boarding school is not only about academics. Afternoons and weekends are extremely busy for the girls as they get involved in a number of sporting, social, creative, debating and leadership activities.

In 2018, Sisipho participated in various co-curricular and cultural activities – including Touch Rugby, Karate and Swimming, as well as African and Contemporary Dance. She achieved her yellow belt in Karate, and plan to continue with her full schedule in 2019.

Sisipho, who stood out in the JSE as a committed and dedicated participant who inspired her peers, had to undergo several assessments before she was selected to join OWLAG, including written tests as well as a two-day camp.

“Since being at OWLAG, I have met a lot of influential people, namely our founder, Mom Oprah Winfrey and Mr Tyler Perry. I have also encouraged myself with my academics by setting goals for myself and working both hard and smart towards achieving them. In the busy OWLAG schedule, I find time to keep in touch with my friends and family as they are my support system,” said Sisipho.

Tyler Perry was the special guest and commencement speaker during a graduation event for the 2018 matric class, held early in December. He described the OWLAG girls as full of “hope, brilliance and intelligence.”

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