Pupils take big talking up a notch in youth action programme

2010-07-30 00:00

GRADE 10 pupils from schools across the province demonstrated what it means to be a good citizen by participating in the first Youth Citizens’ Action Programme (YCAP) competition held at the Education Department’s Metropolitan building yesterday.

This YCAP was built on the premise of creating a platform for the youth to engage in the social issues affecting them in their schools and communities.

Said the marketing manager of MaAfrika Tikkun, Amanda Blankfield, “YCAP rides on a four-year concept called the ‘Big Talk’ where the youth speak about social issues like drugs and teen pregnancies. They … were also encouraged to come up with solutions.”

MaAfrika Tikkun is a non-governmental and public benefit organisation focused on sustainable transformation of communities.

After running these successful programmes, it was decided that it is not enough for the participants to only think big, but also to start acting big.

“The kids were coming up with all these great ideas, but on the ground nothing was really changing. So when the project sponsors, Deutsche Bank, came with the suggestion of transforming the programmes from words into action, we went for it,” said Blankfield.

This year, grade 10 pupils were required to identify challenges within their schools and communities and to implement a programme of action to address those issues.

“This is a culmination of almost six months of planning and hard work from the pupils. The schools were given a tool kit adapted by Heartlines to use as a guideline of how to run the programme and to help them solve problems.”

The competition drew hundreds of enthusiastic entrants who first got the opportunity to battle it out at district level. The winners in each of the 12 districts then represented their district at the provincial leg of the competition, held yesterday.

“We decided to turn the programme into a competition because we wanted the programmes to become sustainable, and what greater motivation than R15 000.”

Speaking to The Witness, the KZN winners who come from Lincoln Heights School in Newcastle, said the win was exhilarating.

The dominant themes for most of the schools that made presentations yesterday were drug abuse, followed by teen pregnancies.

However, the winners had decided to focus on the environment of their school.

“We were able to get the whole school to buy into the fact that the conditions of the school do affect performance,” said Ashraf Vahed (16).

Added Afroze Bholat (15), “I think we won because we managed not only to come up with solutions, but we also acted on it. We had a plan that involved everyone, including the parents and the community, by encouraging them to act against vandalism. It created unity and team spirit.”

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