Training programme provides big dreams for small town boy

2017-04-10 10:32
Ryan Adams, who has graduated from the Chrysalis Academy in Tokai. (Supplied)

Ryan Adams, who has graduated from the Chrysalis Academy in Tokai. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – As a child growing up in the small town of Zoar in the Western Cape, Ryan Adams had two dreams: to one day be a policeman serving his tiny community, and to be the first rapper from the former mission station to make it big.

While neither has yet worked out for him, his determination to steer clear of social ills and crime has set him on a path to new opportunities after completing a three-month development training programme at Chrysalis Academy in Cape Town.

The NPO, started in Tokai in 2000 by the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet, was established for youth at risk in an attempt to stem the high crime rate as a result of substance abuse and gangsterism in the province’s poorer communities.

The initiative adopts a preventative approach through its training programme which focuses on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual development, its website says.

Participants are unemployed, with a clean criminal record and a minimum of Grade 9 education.

The academy is mainly funded by the provincial Department of Community Safety and has benefited over 6 000 young people from across the Western Cape.

Adams was one of 177 young men from Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Manenberg, Ceres, Worcester, Beaufort West, Piketberg and Zoar who graduated from the programme on Saturday.

'Best thing that ever happened to me'

All of the graduates will on Monday start their one-year placement programme at the Department of Community Safety’s various safety partners, including local municipalities, city improvement districts, SAPS offices, Community Policing Forums, NGOs and at the academy itself.

Following sporadic stints as a worker on a fruit farm after an internship with the Department of Social Development, Adams said he applied for the programme after his college application was rejected and he realised he had limited employment opportunities in his hometown.

"There is very little for young people to choose from in Zoar, mostly farm work or working in the small shops as assistants. But there are many ills, like drugs and gangsterism. I always told myself no matter what, I would never get involved in things like that," Adams said.

His dream of being a rapper was dashed after his self-recorded demo about life in Zoar failed to sell, while his aspirations of wearing a police uniform sunk due to visible tattoos of his son’s name on his arms.

"But this [programme] was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got to see things I would never have been exposed to in Zoar, although I missed my home very much," Adams admitted.

During the three-month programme, Adams and the other participants were exposed to training in substance abuse, leadership, communication and diversity, as well as biodiversity and environmental awareness in an outdoor phase.

"I learnt so much, about myself and about life. But my favourite part of this was being out in nature, sleeping outside and hiking for long distances. It was tough, but I learnt about perseverance, which helped when I really missed home," he recalled.

Being away from his family and three-year-old son was difficult, but he knew it was necessary so that he could grab the opportunities the programme would provide, Adams said.

'I want a better future'

Among the practical skills participants learn are electrical circuitry, firefighting, welding and cookery.

Career discussions, volunteering at community projects and preparing to return home to their old lives are covered during the community phase of the course.

It was here that Adams decided to never give up on his dream of wearing the blue uniform.

"I’ve always wanted to work for the people of Zoar," he said.

"I decided that I would work hard to earn enough money to have my tattoos removed so that I can be accepted into the police academy. It’s what I want – I don’t want to give up on it."

He hopes to use his internship as an opportunity for permanent employment should his dream of being a police officer not work out.

"I want to give my all in this opportunity. I want them to see my potential so that I can make my mother proud. When I saw my family crying of happiness at my graduation on Saturday, I realised how much this meant to me," he said.

"I have a son and I don’t want him to grow up like me. I want him to have the stuff I didn’t have. I want a better future. I will work hard for it."

Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  good news

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