Red Frogs to rescue

2013-11-28 00:00

THE 4U Rage Festival goers are our future leaders, doctors, lawyers, teachers and they need to be safeguarded.

This is how Red Frogs SA views the thousands of party goers expected to descend on Ballito, Umhlanga and Margate today.

Red Frogs is a peer support network that has been running in SA since 2009 and aims to be a positive presence in the partying environment, including matric holidays, universities’ first-year orientation parties and festivals around the country. The idea originated in Australia.

During Rage, volunteers provide the youngsters with bottled water and pancakes, and will even walk with them as they make their way back to their hotels.

Paul Rowney of Red Frogs said their mission is to make sure that every youngster that attends the matric rage is safe.

“We’re safeguarding a generation of young people,” said Rowney.

Red Frogs volunteers have travelled from Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and other cities to offer their helping hand. The team also has a full-fledged call centre set up at The Grace Family Church in Umhlanga.

Last year, the call centre received 3 500 calls for assistance — 2 800 of these calls were from youngsters who wanted pancakes, 400 calls from those who wanted to be walked home and the rest from those who suffered cuts and bruises.

They made 22 000 pancakes last year and are expecting to make about 40 000 in the next two weeks.

They have already ordered a ton of Red Frogs sweets, which cost them about R34 000 — the sweets are used as an ice breaker between volunteers and party goers.

Over the years, major incidents have decreased, said Rowney.

“The reality is whenever young people party, you’re going to deal with situations and that’s not a matric holiday-specific thing, it’s a young people combined with alcohol thing.”

Rape Wise is also coming on board and about 25 of their representatives will be present on the field and at some of the hotels as well.

Rape Wise CEO John Buswell said the 4U Rage Festival is the most organised Rage he’s ever seen. They will hand out brochures on how to make safer choices.

Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in Ballito spokesperson Trenly Tilbrook said Rage was good for business and had a significant impact on the economy.

Umhlanga Tourism chairperson Peter Rose said they always hope that the youngsters’ experience is memorable, so that they can come back when they are older or even get married at Umhlanga, or come back with their families.

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