New library oozes colour

2019-04-30 06:00
Cecil Road Primary School in Salt River was the recipient of the 14th library for community schools built by the MAL Foundation on Wednesday 24 April.

Cecil Road Primary School in Salt River was the recipient of the 14th library for community schools built by the MAL Foundation on Wednesday 24 April.

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The 14th library for community schools was launched at Cecil Road Primary School in Salt River on Wednesday 24 April to commemorate World Book Day.

“Who needs one big all-fall-down party, when we can have serious fun throughout the year making a difference with ideas, leaving cool things of value in our wake,” expounds resident Make a Library (MAL) Foundation co-founder Mike Schalit.

The MAL Foundation was established by Net#workBBDO in 2010 on the premise of “We MakeALiving by what we get – we MakeALife by what we give” which led to this MAL initiative.

Schalit explains that in the case of MAL, their skill is creativity, and they’re using it to improve the lives of those less privileged.

“We collaborate with brands and like-minded creative entrepreneurs from artists to musos, architects to retailers, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and as a result, we’ve managed to use the proceeds to design and build these incredible libraries in township schools across South Africa,” says Schalit.

This latest library provides over 2 000 books to the 500 children of Cecil Road Primary School, which services an incredibly tight-knit community and has educated children in Salt River since 1937, with some families having four generations attend the school over the last 82 years.

The new library is a sustainably designed, colourful structure that will not only house books but also offer inventive, comfortable spaces for children to read and write. Designed by MAL’s chief designer Emma Strydom, assisted by Naomi Mulder, the exterior panels of the library have been custom-designed to tell a story: providing a two-way dialogue and extra stimulus or simply a brighter aesthetic for the community.

“It’s about designing to draw kids in, to make them feel proud by association. A space that is as inspiring on the outside as it is in the books they read. So we created nooks and crannies, tunnels, windows, stairs and doors for them to explore through the colour-rich walls, to discover hidden letters and alphabetic structures.

“Hopefully changing their association with dimension and words, by showing them the magical world books can open up.”

The books for the library have been provided by Breadline Africa, a cornerstone partner in the development and maintenance of the 13 existing libraries.

The funds and support for this vibrant new blast of imagination were largely empowered by MAL’s creative collaboration with men’s clothing store Marlboro Originals and the Wear it Forward range.

“How exciting to see the dazzling returns from our investment in design… loud, living proof of the power of fashion to give back,” says managing director Anthony Kawitzky.

“Beyond the families that keep returning to Cecil Road School, this is a wider community that was somehow overlooked by apartheid and the Group Areas Act, and as such has remained intact with this school at its heart, for over 82 years since,” says Boniswa Pezisa, chief executive officer of Net#work BBDO.

Past pupils include household names like actress Shaleen Surtie-Richards and African Dream songstress Vicky Sampson.

“This gift of music is not for myself – it’s to make the world a better place, in turn, to inspire others that your circumstances do not determine your future. I am living proof of that.”

Sampson continues, on the importance of youth empowerment: “I learned that not circumstance, not time, not drugs, not gangsterism… there is a light shining among us and you just have to find that light and in turn make it burn brighter and brighter. The children are our future – it’s not a cliché.”


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