‘My potential is limitless’

2018-07-10 06:00
The children showing off their certificates alongside the programme facilitators from Hilsong Africa Foundation. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

The children showing off their certificates alongside the programme facilitators from Hilsong Africa Foundation. PHOTO: luvuyo mjekula

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A number of children from Kensington and Factreton were last week honoured for learning about their own value, potential and purpose­.

The boys and girls, aged between five and 15, received certificates after a three-day course, dubbed Shine and Strength.

Kensington police and the Hillsong Africa Foundation partnered to make the holiday programme a reality. The event took place at the Students Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (Shawco) centre from Wednesday 4 to Friday 6 July, alongside of Shawco’s 75th anniversary celebrations.

The programme taught boys to learn about their significance, resilience and courage.

“With boys it was getting an understanding of what a man is,” says Tanya Mvenge, the Hillsong team’s spokesperson.

She says she and her partners sought to empower and strengthen not only boys and girls but also women. “For girls and women it was about getting back their value. We talked about rape, potential and dreams. We thought it’s really important that girls understand that there is still power in ‘no means no’, it didn’t go out of fashion. We want to educate girls,” says Mvenge.

During the programme, the children were placed in separate rooms with four young women from Hillsong imparting their knowledge to the girl children in one while their three male counterparts, settled with a group of boys in the other.

Children from 12 to 15 years are targeted in Shine and Strength but a five-year-old toddler was among the girls who benefited this time around, to the appreciation of the facilitators.

The children listened attentively as the facilitators spoke to them about their value, the power of choice and potential.

“My potential is limitless,” the group was heard shouting at one stage.

The girls were all given cups containing seeds and then given soil. They were instructed to put a seed in the soil and cover it. According to the facilitators, the seed represented their growth into individuals. “Potential comes in small seed forms, which determines what one would become in future. The process represented growth,” they were told.

Mvenge says the partnership with the police was also triggered by recent shooting incidents in the area. “It could be easy for girls and boys to be dragged into gangsterism if they don’t understand their value and girls can just end with gangsters if they don’t really understand what’s going on. There is a traumatic experience from living in Kensington especially now with the guns,” she says.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Angeline Grill says the programme was the launch of a new crime prevention strategy within the area. It was the start of one of many proactive crime prevention projects, says Grill.

She believes crime has to be fought in its entirety – not just reactively, but proactively, adding that she is “extremely passionate” about proactive policing. In fact, Grill says her motto is “passionately, proactively policing, while serving and protecting the community­”.

The children’s response to the programme was positive. Asked what they learned from the three days, a few of the boys mentioned respect, love, kindness and resilience. A 12-year-old girl said: “We were talking about what you want to become one day. They talked about our body parts and everything­.”

Grill promises similar programmes in the future.

“We will be embarking on these projects and we are very excited that this project was a success with the children. We are now looking to roll it out to the schools as well. This is but the first of many.”

Mvenge agrees: “We do this every holiday, in the future we hope to get into schools in Kensington as well.”

The team recently took the programme to schools in Mitchell’s Plain and Gugulethu, among other areas, as well as in Gauteng.

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