This report is written by GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Traveler, Chi Nguyen, who is traveling throughout the nine countries of Southern Africa to visit GlobalGiving's partner organizations.
On Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, I was able to visit Inspired2Become's multiple project sites with founder Chris van der Merwe. Chris and I2B have been successful in filling a gap within the surrounding communities of Stellenbosch and Cape Town by providing a space where children can be active and creative, a place where they can feel safe to express themselves through motion.
The government of South Africa has made the effort to build things such as skate parks and recreational sports areas for children to play in after school so that they may avoid the boredom that can often lead to substance abuse. However, the government can only do so much - the communities have found that after the recreational play areas have been built, the children still did not have access to skateboards, roller blades, or any other sports materials that are necessary complimentary components for a skate park to be of practical use. Unfortunately, this has often led to the parks having the exact opposite desired effect - lacking the materials needed to ensure the parks are used for their intended purpose, the parks have then often turned into meeting grounds for children to partake in substance abuse together. This is where Chris and I2B have stepped in to help - Chris locates and obtains skateboards, rollerblades, skim boards and more and makes them accessible to youth for recreational play and development. Each club has a dedicated hour scheduled for them every week: 45 minutes of recreational play, and 15 minutes of self-development and discussion during which they cover a new character development topic every week.
Not only has Chris found that they have been very successful thus far in their mission, he has found the demand to be growing. Children from surrounding communities on the outskirts of the towns that hold I2B centers walk long distances to and from the park every week to enjoy time with their friends and focus on improving their skills on the ramps. To help the youth avoid such long travel distances, Chris is currently in the process of locating funds, materials, and equipment to expand and build new centers so that more youth have access to the recreational play and competitions I2B holds as well as the self-development and character building programs I2B has to offer.