Celebrating Youth Day with your kids

2013-06-11 07:34
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There's no getting past the fact that the origin of Youth Day and Youth Month in South Africa is particularly tragic. The public holiday was instated to commemorate the 16th of June 1976, also known as the Soweto Uprising, when an estimated 20 000 students took to the streets in protest against the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in local schools. 

Police were called in to keep the crowds in check, but things soon took a volatile turn, leaving 176 students dead, although many believe the number of deceased is closer to 700. One of the most iconic images of the Apartheid era was taken on that day. Yes, the one of the dying 13-year-old Hector Pietersen being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after a police bullet had hit him.

While it is ever so important to make your kids aware of this event and the significant role it played in our country's history - every South African should visit the Apartheid museum once in their lives, as well as the Hector Pietersen Memorial - Youth Day is also the perfect opportunity to celebrate the gift of being young and maybe open up your child's mind to the opportunities out there. 

Here are some suggestions of activities that are bound to carry their approval - no matter what their age. 

Toddlers

Cape Town: Yes, it’s winter but that doesn’t mean that you should stay indoors, especially since there is so much to do in the Mother City with your rambunctious babies and toddlers. An easy way to entertain them while rediscovering the city you live in would be the Red City Bus tour. They’re offering their 3 for 1 Kids Special where two kids under the age of 18 can travel for free on the red open-top bus or the Canal Cruise boat with any full-paying adult. Its also valid on weekends, school holidays and public holidays. The cost is R150 and if you purchase tickets online you get a further R30 discount.

Prefer something that will allow them to roam more freely, try the Jolly Carp Organic Market. Your little ones will be entertained in the play area - both indoor and outdoor - as you introduce them to the goodness of slow food and organic market culture. It takes place at 38 Sasmeer Rd in Retreat, every Saturday10:00 - 15:00.

A new edition to the Cape Town play scene for kids would be the Fun House on Mountain View Farm on the pretty Durbanville wine route. Made up of three wooden cottages on the wide, open property, kids are invited to come and play while you unwind and enjoy some relaxing quality time with your family. The entrance fee for kids is R40 and parents get to visit for free.


Johannesburg:
While your little ones might be a bit too young to take in the Hector Pieterson memorial just yet, Gold Reef City theme park should work like a charm. It has some great rides to entertain younger kids under 10 such as its horses, shells, small wheel and Flintstones cars. Children over 6 can do an underground tour down a mine. You'll find it 6km south of the city in Ormonde off the M1 South freeway, open from 9:30am to 17:00 every day, while kids under 1,2m get in free.

Star gazing at the Johannesburg Planetarium is another winner and there is even a space travel show for 4- to 8-year-olds. Shows take place on Saturday mornings at 10.30am.

Ever heard of the Lustrous Lipizzaners? Neither had we until now. These amazing lipizzaners or pure-white performing horses with roman ancestry are bred in KwaZulu-Natal  and at three years the stallions are moved to Kyalami to begin their training. Let the kids and dad be entertained with the special father’s day show they have linedup. The Lipizzaner show is on every Sunday at 10:30 at 1 Dahlia Road, Kyalami. Booking is through Computicket or at the gate. Phone 011-702-2103 and check the website.


Durban: Mitchells Park provides a lush setting in the upmarket Durban suburb of Morningside, with an ideal playground to indulge your little ones. It comes with the requisite climbing, sliding and swinging equipment and  paths are wider in order to be wheelchair and pram friendly. There is a well- maintained small zoo and picnic venue but there is also a tea garden and restaurant  to choose from. Entrance fees: Adults: R4, Children under 18 years: R3

If your kids especially love animals, check out the The Duck and Deck Animal Farm, in the Assagay valley. It is a great place to get back to nature as it allows children to touch, feel and interact with animals - including 20 different species of beautiful exotic ducks and a pair of Black swans. There is also "Alphie" the Alpaca and Emus, plus Alpine, Dwarf and the very rare Cashmere goats as well as indigenous sheep and fowls. They're open Tuesday - Sunday 9:30 to 16:00 and public holidays.



Tweens

(Moses Mabhida Website)

Cape Town: Open their minds to atoms, orbits and experiments at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory. Tickets cost R38 per person, R33 if you're in a group of 10 or more and pensioners pay R15. There's also a special family package price of R132. Check out the Science Centre website for more details. 

Alternatively, take them to Clay Cafe in Hout Bay to paint their very own piece of pottery. You can even join in the creative fun if you feel like it! It costs R75 per child to paint one item.  

Joburg: Introduce them to a wide array of incredible creatures at the Johannesburg Zoo or the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. Both these options are beautiful, the animals are well taken care of and treated kindly and your kids are bound to leave there with a new wonder for the natural world. The Johannesburg Zoo's entry fee is R36 for children and pensioners and R58 for adults. The National Zoological Gardens charge an entry fee of R44 for children and R66 for adults. 

Looking for something a little more challenging? Take them to Honeydew A-mazing Mazes and challenge their sense of direction. Entry costs R70 for kids and R100 for adults. Make a day of it by taking a picnic basket filled with all their favourite goodies!

Durban: Treat your kids to a little taste of that 2010 World Cup awesomeness with a SkyCar trip at the Moses Mabhida stadium. The funicular runs along the length of the north arch from the lower station to the upper station at the SkyPlatform and provides spectacular views of South Africa's favourite Indian Ocean-side city. Tickets cost R30 for children under 12 (children under six go for free), R55 for adults and R50 for pensioners. Check out the Moses Mabhida website for more details. 

Or try to boggle their perspective of the world by taking them to Mini Town, a knee-high miniature replica of Durban, on the beachfront. It's open from 09:00 to 17:00 daily. Kids get in for R10 and adults for R15. 

Teens

(Shutterstock)

Cape Town: So, there aren't that many things that impress your once sweet, now moody kid these days. However, getting up close to beautiful birds is sure to spark some form of fascination. Head to Spier wine farm outside Stellenbosch for an encounter with eagles and owls. During your time there, they will be able to pet and play with incredibly cute Woody the Wood Owl and watch two Barn Owls dancing. Entry costs R50 for adults and R20 for kids under 13. Check out the Eagle Encounters website for further details. 

Feel it's time to get their blood pumping properly for a change? Take them on one of the many hiking trails in Table Mountain National Park. Get well out of the city reaches by heading to the gorgeous and wild Silvermine section of the park - here Elephant's Eye provides an easy and enjoyable day walk.

Joburg: Challenge your teen's sporting abilities with a day of Adventure Golf at one of four Johannesburg venues - Brightwater Commons, Fourways Mall, Park Meadows or Stoneridge Centre. Caves, water features, magnificent greens as well as professionally laid out putting courses make it a challenge as well as a picturesque day outing. Check out the Adventure Golf website for pricing details and further information.

Take them to see a show at the Joburg Theatre Complex or the Market Theatre. An upcoming show at Joburg Theatre's Fringe which is sure to blow even the most cynical teen away is International Guitar Night

Durban: Go geocaching! While the adventure sport of geocaching is gaining popularity and can be done pretty much anywhere, going on a treasure hunt around Durban is a great way to discover all those nooks and crannies your teens have most certainly been overlooking. Check out the Geocach website for more details on where to find caches. 

Alternatively, get them all creeped out with a visit to Fitzsimons snake park in Lower Marine Parade. The park is a sanctuary to about 120 South African indigenous species of snakes, including mambas, cobras and puffadders. You can also see Iguanas, tortoises and some crocodiles.

 
Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle
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