Reality TV star educates pupils aboutunderage drinking

2015-08-27 06:00
PHOTO: ian carbutt

Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) has been selected to participate in ‘Future Leaders’.

PHOTO: ian carbutt Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) has been selected to participate in ‘Future Leaders’.

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BURSTING with excitement over her first appearance on national television, Silver Heights Secondary pupil Hlengiwe Mcoyi (15) said the key to success is confidence.

Hlengiwe is the only KZN teen selected to participate in the reality TV show Future Leaders, which features five teenagers who have had past experiences with alcohol.

After a difficult upbringing and dabbling in alcohol from 13, Hlengiwe is spreading the word about the dangers of underage drinking through the show.

“My dad would abuse my mother in front of my brother and I. This led to my mother drinking alcohol every day. She would even leave us to go partying with friends. I was only five years old and was brought up this way.”

She said she turned to alcohol since her mother “showed that it was fun and exciting”.

“I became so sick I vowed I would never touch alcohol again. It destroys your future and my mission is to educate­ children about underage drinking.”

She now lives with her aunt, brother and cousins in Northdale.

The show documents Hlengiwe and other teenagers’ journey to becoming positive change agents and role models in their communities and schools. Hlengiwe will be working with top-five Miss South Africa 2015 pageant contender Sihle Makanya, a quantity surveyor, as her mentor.

“My project that I am working on with Sihle is to expand, furnish and refurbish a local school’s library. I feel that by doing this I can educate my peers to turn to healthier activities rather than drinking.”

The first episode aired on 16 August on SABC 1.

“My story touched many people’s lives. People who would tease me or make fun of me come up to me and a pologise after hearing about my background on the show,” she said.

Hlengiwe said apart from her rough upbringing, she was teased at school about her weight and complexion.

“I had a very low self-esteem and would go home every day and cry.”

Hlengiwe said Future Leaders has opened doors for her and she now wants to return the favour and help anyone in need of upliftment.

Silver Heights teacher Bubs Armoogam, who helped coach Hlengiwe for her interviews for Future Leaders, said: “She taught me how important it is to be confident and that believing in yourself is the gateway to achieving your dreams.”

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