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Ten YearBeyond programme volunteers were awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Johannesburg after claiming the top spot at the programme’s Social Innovation Challenge on 28 October 2016.
The programme is a Western Cape government initiative that trains young volunteers between 18 and 25 years old and provides them with the opportunity to gain much-needed work experience. On completion of training, the volunteers are awarded with leadership certificates from Stellenbosch University.
Training includes completing an innovation challenge and self-development sessions. At the same time the volunteers are placed in schools located in poor communities in Delft, Mitchells Plain and Gugulethu, where they help to tutor learners. The Social Innovation Challenge is coordinated by the Frederick van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development.
It prepares volunteers for the workplace by helping them to develop critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, programme design, pitching and marketing. The Western Cape Minister for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais, who was on the panel of judges says that she was impressed by the excellent standard of ideas and presentations. “The programme helps volunteers with personal growth and is essential to schools, helping to keep learners away from social ills.” Other judges included Lucille Meyer, chief executive of the Chrysalis Academy; Dr Leslie van Rooi, head of the Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert Institute; Lorenzo Davids, chief executive of the Community Chest of South Africa; Telkom executive Sarah Mthintso; and Cape Talk and 702 presenter Africa Melane. The overall comment from the judges was that volunteers had produced “a class act, no doubt”.
This year’s theme focused on the lack of a culture of learning in schools. For the three-phase challenge volunteers had to propose solutions to socio-economic challenges in the 22 schools where they volunteer. Phase one focused on volunteers making presentations on the root causes of the lack of learning culture, while phase two focused on ideas that could address these challenges. In the final phase, held on 28 October 2016, volunteers were judged on how sustainable their ideas were, as well as how they had fared in implementing them. The winners were chosen for their simple and innovative idea that allows learners to feel connected to their classrooms by personalising a designated wall (wall of wonder) and creating seat covers for their chairs.
The idea has already been piloted in their respective schools and was both easy to implement and cost effective. Runners up were awarded tablets and data for their idea of introducing a meditation session for learners during their first period. One volunteer who presented, despite her team pulling out, received a special mention and prizes to the value of R3 000 from Community Chest as well as a tablet. Another group received a city sight-seeing trip for the most improved team.
The programme is supported by Ernst & Young, the Frederick van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development at Stellenbosch University, Action Volunteers Africa (AVA) and a number of NGOs.
Applications for February 2017 volunteers are now open. Prospective volunteers can apply via www.yearbeyond.org.za