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Jan 11, 2018

From Playing Ball To Studying To Be A Doctor

The Proud Achiever
The Proud Achiever

From playing ball to studying to become a medical doctor – one South African girl’s life has been transformed through the power of sport.

Bronwyn, a United Through Sport’s Senior School of Excellence beneficiary, achieved her final year 2017 National Senior Certificate with no less than four distinctions. She has been accepted to study Medicine at the University of Cape Town in 2018.

“United Through Sport gave me such an amazing opportunity, allowing me to attend a school such as Pearson. I feel like I have grown much more and have been exposed to many more opportunities and people thanks to UTS. The fact that they also saw me as a deserving candidate for the bursary inspired confidence in me that I never previously had,” said an elated Bronwyn.

Bronwyn is one of nine beneficiaries from the United Through Sport Senior School of Excellence Programme in South Africa who have all achieved their 2017 National Senior Certificates. They have chosen diverse career paths, from studying Photography to Accounting, at various tertiary institutions across the country.

The UTS Senior School of Excellence Programme, which is based in Nelson Mandela Bay, is focussed on providing talented and determined children with a top level academic education for a full five years - with the final aim of further supporting them through tertiary studies.

The Class of 2017 is the biggest group of beneficiaries that have passed through the programme in South Africa, according to United Through Sport Director Nick Mould.

“Each one of our Grade 12’s is expected to pursue tertiary studies, many being the first in their families to do so. Compared to the national average, we are very pleased with our 100% pass rate and would like to wish all our beneficiaries well with their future endeavours,” said Mould.

The Senior School of Excellence beneficiaries’ 100% pass rate is well above the 75.1% average pass rate in South Africa. The United Through Sport Senior School of Excellence Programme achieved a 78% university pass rate in 2017, compared to the national average of just 28%.

Kay, another South African United Through Sport Senior School of Excellence 2017 top achiever, will be pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher through the University of Pretoria.

"United Through Sport has been there for me since I was 11 years old, and they have been the main reason I have achieved my dream of being the first person in my family to go to University.  This opportunity has really changed my life," Kay said.

Dec 12, 2017

Oprah School Scholarship

It is relatively safe to assume that everyone has heard the name “Oprah Winfrey” before. As one of the most influential women in the world, this lady has done amazing work trying to bring change to people’s lives all over the world. One of her initiatives to bring about this change was starting a school for girls in South Africa, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG) ten years ago, which was inspired by her own humble beginnings and disadvantaged background. The purpose of this school is to offer educational opportunities and pathways to success to academically gifted girls from difficult backgrounds that have the potential and commitment to succeed in life and become change makers in the world.

It was thrilling news to receive the update that one of our Junior School of Excellence (JSE) beneficiaries, Sisipho, has been accepted to OWLAG to start high school in the year 2018. Sisipho is 12 years old and has been a United Trough Sport beneficiary for the last two years, and we were definitely not surprised that she would make the cut for such an opportunity. A very bubbly, confident and beautiful young lady, Sisipho has shown determination and commitment in everything she does at the JSE. She has a very warm personality and a strength beyond words that inspires her peers to always aim high and reach for their goals, no matter what.

Sisipho recalls how nervous she was throughout the selection process. The first round was in April in the form of written assessments here in Port Elizabeth with other girls, which was done at the University. As confident as she is generally, she could not control her nerves as just the thought of the name “Oprah” was pressure to perform. Following that, she was called to attend a two-day camp at OWLAG, which she had to travel to by plane in July. The next round was a home visit by the representatives of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in September and she got the final news of her acceptance in October. 

One of Sisipho’s dreams is to study at a University in the States when she is finished with high school, and personally meet Miss Oprah Winfrey. She prays that her grandmother, who she lives with currently, can witness her graduation in a few years. She strives to make her grandmother proud and to set a good example for her younger brother.

We are absolutely very proud that she will be getting such a prestigious opportunity and wish her all the best in her new venture! Sisipho has a strong head on her shoulders and we will be looking out for her in the next few years!

Oct 13, 2017

Surf's Up for United Through Sport

It is exciting to tell you about a new programme that our Senior School of Excellence children are involved in. United Through Sport has partnered with Waves For Change, an organisation that uses surfing as therapy and provides skills to cope with stress, regulate behaviour, build healing relationships and make positive life choices.

On the 14th August, after identifying the children that would benefit the most from this programme, we started the Friday sessions with Waves For Change where the children will be going through a 20 week programme at the beach.  Before their first session, the children had mixed emotions about this programme as they could not fully understand what “surf therapy” meant and did not know what to expect. However, after being on the surf boards in their wet suits on the first session, they totally loved it and have been excitedly attending the sessions. They have also built good relationships with the mentors in the programme, and thoroughly enjoy the life skills & therapy aspects of the programme.

After a long week of school and playing sport, it is very relaxing for these youngsters to spend Friday afternoons on the beach, on a surf board and just “’talking stuff out”, as the kids put it, with their Waves For Change mentors. As we had carefully selected the children that needed this kind of programme, it is amazing to note the difference in their attitude in the past few weeks. We have seen a change in their attitude to school work as well as their behaviour in our regular after-school sessions. We totally understand that there is something special and calming about the beach, especially when you get to meditate and also learn a new skill. Surfing has obviously always been associated with a certain demographic in our country, so learning this rare skill is very empowering for these youngsters.

As this is an extra programme to coordinate, we are grateful that expenses such as transport and food for the children can be catered for by our Global Giving sponsors. We are hopeful for a long lasting relationship with Waves For Change, where we can send more children in 2018 to benefit from the surf therapy.

“I never thought I could be able to surf, and I had no idea there was such a thing as surf therapy. I honestly have only ever seen anyone surfing on TV, and it’s always boys but I am now able to stand on the surf board and hope to be able to catch big waves soon” – Nkcubeko, 14 years old, SSE Beneficiary.

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