Developing Vulnerable Kids Thru Sport South Africa

by United Through Sport SA
Vetted
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
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
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

We are excited to tell you about Zolisa Faba; a 14 year old boy from our Mass Participation Programme. Zolisa progressed into our Senior School of Excellence Program with a scholarship to Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg. He has now completed his first year at Jeppe, and what a change we have seen in him!

For any young boy, growing up without a father always has difficult implications, but for Zolisa the situation worsened when his mother fell terminally ill two years ago. His mother had to be moved to a specialist hospital in Cape Town for the demanding care she needed. It felt as if his, and his brothers, world was falling apart and he had no option but to leave home.

Living with their Great Aunt, and seven other people in a small house, things were not quite the same for these two boys. The whole household was dependent upon the pension of their great Aunt (R880 per month / £73) as it is the sole source of income for the household.

Zolisa felt he and his brother were a burden to his Aunt, not surprising when her pension equated to less than R5 (40p) per person per day. As a result there were many periods when Zolisa was only eating a meal once every three days.

When the opportunity came along to send one of our talented sports men to one of the top schools in the country, it was not difficult for us to choose Zolisa – not because of his circumstances but in spite of them. He was one of our most dedicated learners, his enthusiasm and determination within our program stood out. He was dedicated and committed, regardless of the family situation back home, and clearly wanted more from his life.

Zolisa now eats regular meals, has grown hugely both physically and mentally and after just one year at his new school, stands out as a fine, well mannered young man. Most importantly he is receiving a top level education which will allow him to progress onto almost any career path he chooses and ultimately completely change his own future and that of his family.

Zolisa is a great example of the opportunities we strive to create for our children. We are so proud of how far Zolisa has come and so excited about where he is going!

(Special thanks to Theo Jackson Scholarship Fund for making this possible)

Ntando in action at the VCT Tournament
Ntando in action at the VCT Tournament

To celebrate Youth Day on June 16th, we hosted our first VCT Tournament held in Addo, a small rural town outside Port Elizabeth, with soccer and netball being the two sports played. The point of this tournament was to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to encourage HIV counseling and testing. On the day, we accomplished testing 74 youth in the age 12-17 years and 54 older than 18 years. Of the 74 children, none were HIV positive and of the older youth, 24 % tested HIV positive. The community of Addo pleaded us to come back and get their kids more involved in sport. “We are happy when our kids are having fun and learning at the same time, as AIDS is a big problem” commented one of the parents.

The United Through Sport SA Senior School of Excellence (SSE) has been lucky enough to get a kitchen-makeover in April. Stanley House from Wellington College in the UK raised funds to be used to renovate the kitchen at our School of Excellence. The UTS SA kitchen, which was in desperate need of an upgrade, is currently used to feed more than 150 children per day who participate in the sports program coordinated by UTS SA at Ithembelihle High School in New Brighton. “The kitchen is now more pleasant to work in, the running water being the highlight of the upgrade” Nokuthula Mcondobi, Food Assistant, Umzingisi.

We have put into practice, with the assistance of international volunteers, measures to work on the SSE kids’ language skills; the emphasis of this being improving the kids’ spoken English. For two afternoons a week, the students have discussion sessions on various topics, ranging from alcohol, under-age sex, abortion, performance enhancing drugs,  relationships and gender roles to politics, religion and the World Cup. These are just a few of the topics, drama games are also included as well as reading and presenting exercises. It was amazing to see, as time went, the shy kids coming out of their shells and expressing their opinions. The fact that the topics are on taboo subjects most of the time, these discussions get heated as the kids are not shy to strongly oppose each other on their different views and perspectives. On a weekly basis, we call in external facilitators to conduct life skills workshops with the kids. They cover topics such as early parenthood, time management, sexual health, alcohol and drug addictions, self esteem and motivation, communication skills and financial budgeting, just to name a few. 

Four of our SSE boys played their first chess tournament three months ago and according to Aviwe, one of the players in the tournament, this was an exhilarating learning experience full of fun and they all learned a lot from it. We introduced this game to the kids with the vision of it being helping the kids in terms of their problem solving skills, their concentration levels, strategizing and it promoting, amongst many other things, their mental awareness. With the exception of the youngest player, the boys each won a minimum of 2 games in the tournament.

On the sports field, the SSE boys and girls have been very busy with school leagues, tournaments and trying out for provincial colours. The soccer boys played a big FNB Victoria Park Soccer Challenge, which had a few national schools coming down to Port Elizabeth to compete. Our U/19 boys did us very proud by making it to the final; where they were the runner-ups of the tournament. Our netball girls and rugby boys also took part in a big event; the FNB Classic Clashes; where both netball and rugby went home with the title, with the rugby boys winning it for the third year in a row. We are also proud to say that we have a representative in the EP U/19 Netball team (provincial), Nomawethu Runeli, who made the team in the beginning of June.

Over the last week of July, UTS SA has had three visits from schools in the UK. The netball girls played against St Albans High School for Girls and the rugby played Wellington College as well as Sedbergh School. It is always a pleasure for our kids to host such schools of prestige and play them in the townships. It means even more when, like Sedbergh did, the opponents spend the whole day experiencing life in a typical day of a South African child in the less advantaged areas of our country. The Sedbergh boys sat in classes with our boys, which was a different experience to what they are familiar with. “It was challenging playing against them, and learning about England earlier in the day was very interesting. They have as few as six students in a class, I have never heard of that! We have six times that amount!” Ludwe Jack, Grade 12, UTS SA Beneficiary

These past few months have been activity packed, our kids are progressing both on and off the field and we have enjoyed the visitors we have had, who now hopefully have a better understanding of the needs these children have. We appreciate all the assistance and helping hands from our donors, enabling UTS SA to carry out the work it does.

“It is great to see how our programme is affecting the lives of the youth in South Africa, assisting them in their growth and developing them to be responsible young citizens, giving them hope for a better future”.- Spakes Xapile, Project Manager, UTS SA.

Mobile Testing Clinics at the VCT Tournament
Mobile Testing Clinics at the VCT Tournament
Getting their hands dirty renovating the kitchen
Getting their hands dirty renovating the kitchen
Some kitchen appliances donated by Stanley House
Some kitchen appliances donated by Stanley House
Siphosethu learning how to perform CPR
Siphosethu learning how to perform CPR
Sedbergh and Umzingisi Rugby Boys
Sedbergh and Umzingisi Rugby Boys
 

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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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