By Mark Slessenger - National Hope Academy Director
Cycle for Hope Team Photo
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.
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