The streets of Hanover Park came alive as scores of young people gathered in support of the launch of the Life Counts programme.On Saturday 24 August, residents gathered in the streets to walk to a local block of flats where mayor Dan Plato addressed the crowd.Antonio van der Rheede, councillor for ward 47, also attended the launch.The programme, which has already been rolled out in other areas including Grassy Park, aims to empower youth and to create youth leaders to act as ambassadors for change. It will spearhead various initiatives to engage young people and to keep them off the streets. Plato pleaded with the youth to reclaim their area and to fight gangsterism. He also spoke about the importance of education and encouraged them to continue studying after matric. He informed them that colleges offer bursaries.Plato was upbeat about the turnout. He said it meant more young people were heeding the youth’s call to action.“I am pleased that so many youngsters came. They could have been somewhere else but they decided to come here to listen,” Plato said, adding that young people want to see change. He said he had spoken with six gang members and the interaction highlighted the need for someone to listen to their stories. Plato said their willingness to talk to him was a sign that they were open to positive change. He assured the youth that the government was committed to helping them.“We as leaders want to see development, but we cannot do it alone. We need to instil morals, to show the youth something different,” he said.Programme facilitator John Alexander said he is excited about the initiative and its intended outcomes.The former teacher said he was delighted to be part of such an initiative and for the opportunity to work with the youth. Alexander said the programme was linked with the subcouncil and they would be working closely with Van der Rheede.“We do not have a schedule yet. Our meetings will depend on the ward councillor.”He said the programme would focus on nurturing leadership skills among the youth as well as personal development. “The programme seeks to mould children into leaders and to create opportunities,” Alexander explained.