Developing Vulnerable Kids Thru Sport South Africa

by United Through Sport SA
Vetted

"The children are the future"- this is a statement that just cannot be disputed. It is always so heart-warming and hopeful to see young people standing up for what they believe in, particularly when it comes to fighting for their rights!

The young people of the Nelson Mandela Bay showcased this on the 20th February 2016 as they participated in a "Youth March Against Violence" to voice their concerns about all the violence and crime happening in their communities. Towards the end of 2015, United Through Sport, alongside two other local NGOs, started a vibrant and active youth network to promote, develop and create opportunities for the youth of Nelson Mandela Bay. The Youth 1st Network and its members used this platform to engage with the local municipality about the unsafe communities the youth live in. This was done in the form of a march where a petition was handed over to a representative of the Mayor. To motivate the youth, a speaker addressed the children about the importance of staying in school and avoiding criminal activities. The speaker was an ex-convict himself, who has since turned into a business man.

On that Saturday morning, over 500 youth marched in the streets of the CBD, hoping their voices will be heard. The petition signed requested more visible policing, less tolerance of illegal behaviour, the erection of fully functional CCTV/cameras to cover the streets and public spaces (which will minimise the need for human witnesses), more protection for eye witnesses of crime, a serious crack-down on gang leaders, more community cooperation in bringing criminals to justice and a concentrated effort to reduce illegal gun possession, ownership and smuggling.

Leading up to the event, the Junior School of Excellence beneficiaries at United Through Sport spent their life skills and mentoring sessions discussing violence; the causes, results, impact on society as well as prevention options. The children are affected by crime on a daily basis in their communities, and sadly so even in their own homes. The key solution that the beneficiaries came up with to minimizing this issue was education. The children see education and employment as key factors to putting a stop to the crime in their communities. Being involved in the march and signing the petition made them feel empowered that they can be the change they want to see in their communities.

"Holding my poster up, walking with the group gave me the spirit that through my actions I can make a positive change in the world"- Anifa, 12 yrs old, United Through Sport Beneficiary

Cody
Cody

The year 2016 sparks off an immediate celebratory atmosphere amongst the United Through Sport family in South Africa, as we commemorate another successive 100% matriculation pass rate from all of our Senior School of Excellence (SSE) graduates. In spite of the national matric pass rate dropping from 76% in 2014 to 71% for the class of 2015, with a further overall bachelor’s pass rate of only 18% for all schools in the Eastern Cape, our kids managed to score 100% in both areas.

Each of our matriculates achieved merit passes with clear, strategic plans for their futures. Furthermore, our post-matriculates are aided by tips and tools accessible via various online platforms, alongside our continued support to help them continue on their pathway to success. Some examples of our scholars and their plans for their immediate future are:

Cody comes from an area renowned for drugs, crime and gangsterism, but he has overcome the odds stacked against him by sheer determination and a dedicated work ethic on both the sports field and in the classroom. His distinctive Grade 12 pass results have furthered his prospects of an aspired academic qualification in Sports Management or Sport Psychology at either the University of Cape Town or University of Johannesburg respectively. Cody is assured of a promising future with the reversal of the odds now stacked suitably in his favour. We are elated at being a part of Cody’s journey.

As in most instances with our SSE scholarship beneficiaries, there are some restraining circumstances around the guarantee of all our children’s academic success. Ayabulela is no exception and struggles through his mom’s absence from his home, simply because of her work commitments in the Transkei. Yet, Aya has transcended these challenges superbly well and now seeks to pursue Tertiary Education. Equally, we are delighted at Aya’s chosen option of Business Management Studies at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

Lorenda is well known to our team for her reserved, soft-hearted nature and passion for helping others, particularly those from disadvantaged environments. Hence, she has chosen a career pathway of nursing, which is apparent to all who know her, as the ideally suited choice for her life’s work. Subsequently though, we have the immediate privilege of having her continue as staff at United Through Sport for her gap year of 2016, thereafter she would begin her formal training in nursing.

Lorenda has gifted us with such heart-filled encounters of caring and sharing. It’s always rewarding when one of our scholars, whom having been given a chance, now chooses to give back by affording others the same opportunity for significant success.

A life transforming relocation to Jeppe Boys High in Johannesburg has proved most fruitful for our fourth 2015 graduate. Zolisa is a prime example of the significant impact we strive to make in the lives of all of our children. He has truly personified our endeavours of uniting through sport.  He will now be progressing on to NMMU to study Marketing.

“We would like to bid all of our post-matriculates well with their projected plans and ambitions. When your heart is in it, anything is possible. Godspeed!” – Russel Aspeling (SSE Manager)

Lorenda
Lorenda
Scholarship Beneficiaries
Scholarship Beneficiaries
Ayabulela
Ayabulela
The boys with their host buddies
The boys with their host buddies

 

Ten boys in our Junior School of Excellence programme are still thanking their lucky stars after an amazing trip to the UK at the beginning of October 2015.

The ten U13 boys received the opportunity to go on a Sport and Cultural Tour to the UK to take part in a Festival of Rugby organized by our charity partner Touraid. This incredible tour had the boys travelling out of their country and being in a plane for the very first time in their lives. To put the cherry on top, this trip was alongside the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.

The United Through Sport boys were hosted by the Ripley Court School and played against 9 other teams from around the world. The actual Festival of Rugby was over two days, and the boys spent more time doing sightseeing around London and various cultural activities with their host school buddies. In the tournament, the boys performed extremely well, winning 8 of the 9 matches they played, positioning them 2nd at the end of the Festival.

Visiting the Twickenham Stadium, watching The Lion King and watching the Italian rugby team train are some of the highlights from the trip. As young rugby players who have big dreams to represent their country professionally one day, meeting rugby legend Chester Williams was definitely an honour and a huge inspiration for all the boys.

Children in our programmes come from difficult backgrounds and such opportunities drive and inspire them to work even harder to make a success of their lives. Opening the world up to them means they not only get to experience different cultures, but also get to share and take pride in their own culture. It is through organizations that have a common goal as United Through Sport that we are able to offer such opportunities this to our youth.  Touraid does amazing work tackling child poverty and we are forever grateful for the relationship we have with them.

 “My time in England was amazing. Everyday I think about my host family and all the new friends I made at Ripley. I cannot believe I travelled to England, I hope to go back when I finish school.” – Onele, 13 years old, United Through Sport Beneficiary 

Selfie Time at Ripley Court School
Selfie Time at Ripley Court School
Three of our boys made the Global Warriors Team
Three of our boys made the Global Warriors Team
Time for The Lion King !
Time for The Lion King !
Game Time
Game Time
Meeting Chester Williams
Meeting Chester Williams
Netball Girls
Netball Girls

In partnership with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM), United Through Sport (UTS) implemented a series of community-based projects in the period of June-July 2015 to increase physical activity in the communities of Nelson Mandela Bay. These events were to encourage the residents of the Bay to lead a healthier lifestyle as well as to bring activities to the idle youth during the long school break. Over the winter school holiday, UTS conducted these projects in the form of three Community Walks and two Holiday Programmes in and around the Bay, where a total of 1589 participants took part in the various events.

This physical activity plan formed part of the Designed to Move campaign which highlights the importance of being physically active. As there are a lot risks, conditions and diseases associated with physical inactivity, such as depression, heart disease and strokes, it was important to raise awareness around this. It is also important to inform the young children that they could pro long and improve the quality of their lives and brain power by taking part in physical activities.

The Community Walks were 2KM routes in the townships and catered for everyone in the community; the young and the old. Each walk started off with a brief aerobics warm up session, especially considering how cold it was in the early mornings.  At the end of the walks and after the cooling down exercises, there were challenges and competitions done to showcase ways of doing fun and free physical activities. These included a skipping rope and hoola-hoop challenges and dance competitions. Prizes were awarded to the challenge participants and competition winners, as well as our oldest and youngest walkers.

All the communities warmly appreciated having such events in their township, as they rarely have the chance to participate in these kinds of opportunities in their remote area. The youngest participants were still learning how to walk and the eldest walkers were in their 70s.

The different elements incorporated in the Holiday Programmes were life skills, role plays, sport, general knowledge quizzes, indigenous games as well as arts & crafts. UTS also included some of their own beneficiaries from the Senior School of Excellence to work as volunteers at the holiday camps. The older and more mature beneficiaries assisted as peer leaders to the participants. At the end of the camps, these youngsters felt really good about being involved in such an initiative, and being able to be of service to other children. It was a good opportunity to develop their leadership skills and to take responsibility for developing younger children from their communities.

The older children participated in life skills which focused on HIV and AIDS awareness. The different fun and interactive games in these sessions taught the children about the importance of decisions they make and the consequences which follow, the myths and truths on identifying someone who is HIV positive, how to minimize the risks of being infected and how HIV is spread. The younger children spent a lot of time in the arts & crafts sessions, where they did face painting, paper masks, storytelling and such age appropriate activities.

On the sport aspects, the girls and boys took part in netball and soccer where they were coached by the international volunteers. On the last day of the holiday programme, they played against each other, as well as an indigenous games tournament.

The winter holiday programme was a great success in enabling us to take key aspects of our ongoing programmes to communities that wouldn’t otherwise benefit. Being a development through sport organization; it is great to be working in partnership with the municipality to encourage healthier lifestyles in our communities. 

“It feels great that I can give back to other children and pay forward what UTS has done for me in my life”- Lorenda , UTS Beneficiary, 17 years old

“We never really think about the dangers of living an inactive life, yet there is so much we can do every day to avoid many diseases- we just need to move a little more every day” Sonwabo Jacobs, Colchester Community Member, 45 years old.

Prizes for Winners
Prizes for Winners
Prizes for Oldest Participants
Prizes for Oldest Participants
Hoola Hoop Challenge
Hoola Hoop Challenge

The start of the year for the new children in the Senior School of Excellence (SSE) is always full of mixed emotions; excitement of the year ahead but also anxiety about the new schooling system. It is therefore quite important that the older children in the programme offer as much support as possible, easing them into their new schools.

This year, we have a total of 52 children in the SSE programme, four of them doing their final year in high school. We are also happy to announce a new partnership with Alexander High school, which will have their first intake of our children in the year 2016, bringing the number of our partner schools to seven.  Our relationships with the different schools have been amazing so far, with St George’s Preparatory School requesting children as young as ten years old for scholarships.  Our youngest (and cutest) beneficiary, Keanue, will be in the programme for a total of nine years.  He started Grade 4 this year at St George’s, and has stolen the hearts of all the female UTS staff members!

In January, we had a fun outing with our SSE beneficiaries, which was a great way of integrating the class of 2015 to the rest of the group. The beautiful, sunny summer day was spent doing various team-building activities and swimming in the warm still waters of Van Staden’s River mouth. We invited some of the past beneficiaries who started university this year, to take part in the outing as peer leaders to the group.  

Our university students have settled in very well, and are really enjoying tertiary life. Lindiwe now lives in a student residence, a walking distance from campus and has adjusted very well with her housemates. S’bu needs to do a few hours of community work for his studies and there is no doubt which organization he will be doing that with. S’the is over the moon with excitement about his hours of flying aircrafts and Athi is a shining star in the University rugby team.   We couldn’t be prouder of our current crop and past graduates who are flying the UTS Flag high.

“University life is completely different from the past 12 years of schooling, no teachers chase after you for your work so I really need to be super dedicated. Other than that, campus life is good and I have made plenty of friends from other cities!” – Lindiwe, UTS Beneficiary.

 

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Organization Information

United Through Sport SA

Location: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​www.unitedthroughsport.org.za
Project Leader:
Nick Mould
Founder
Port Elizabeth, Eastern Province South Africa

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