Youth Day Celebrations in South Africa

To celebrate Youth Day, we held an event on 15th June in partnership with Love Life and Letsema Circle at the Jabavu Rugby Stadium in Kwa-Nobuhle, Uitenhage. The Department of Health, Education, Home Affairs were also involved on the day, with stations set up for Diabetes testing, High Blood Pressure and HIV/AIDS testing (DoH), and birth registration and ID registration (DoHA). Ten schools from the community were invited to the event and our volunteers were happy to get a feel of what other organisations do.

Opening the event were performances by the youth of Kwa-Nobuhle, including traditional dancing and musicals based on the history and the meaning of June 16. This was also very educational to our international volunteers; getting the deeper meaning and importance of their involvement on this day. The theme of the event was centred on bridging the gap between the youth and their parents, where the parents are of support to the youth. The youth were to enjoy the activities planned, together with their parents, engaging in sport and educational programmes.

Dialogue was opened between the adults and the young people on topics affecting youth in society. Issues such as peer pressure, the difference in generations and times that affect the parent-child relationship were discussed in groups. Options for a channel of communication between the child and the parents were discussed as it was discovered that this was a prevalent problem in the community. We know firsthand how most of the children in our programmes are too scared to approach their parents with their problems and prefer to talk to our life skills coaches instead. The Love Life team also had an open discussion on the challenges of youth as well as information sharing on career guidance.

On the sports side of the event, we were doing what we know best; engaging 104 young people in sports and life skills activities, using the Yputh Development through Sports (YDS) toolkit to discuss HIV/AIDS. The children were ecstatic to have such fun activities which catered for their age group, compared to the norm of listening to speeches all day long. They also got to watch two soccer matches; one of which being a ladies game. Also organised was a boxing bout and a taebo session.

The event had a total reach of 823 people. Love Life had 63 youth in their discussions and Letsema had a total of 53 taking part in their activities. The health department tested a total of 37 for HIV/AIDS and 51 for high blood pressure and diabetes. The department also distributed a total of 6000 condoms on the day. The department of home affairs had a total of 30 enquiries on the day, which were applications for identity documents and birth registration.

This event was a great success, especially since it was a first of its kind in this community. Our international volunteers were happy to experience such events that bring out the culture and history of South Africa. We received positive feedback from the community, with the wish of having more events like this. All partners in the event are happy to have been part of it and to have brought activities to the community of Kwa-Nobuhle to celebrate Youth Day.

“I had such a great time at the stadium, dancing and playing with the kids but also learnt a great deal about the struggles that South African youth went through.” – Stacey Watson, Football Coaching Volunteer from Canada.

HIV Counselling and Testing Tournament

‘Youth Day’ is a hugely celebrated day in South Africa and being an organisation that has it’s primary goal as ‘development of youth’, United Through Sport SA held a HIV Counselling and Testing 5-a-side Tournament at a small town just outside of Port Elizabeth. The point of this tournament was to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to encourage HIV counselling and testing.

The 95 children playing on the day comprised of 7 local soccer teams and one local netball team; which were all under the age of 16, with the senior teams being the South African Police Services (SAPS) playing against the local team, Addo Legends. Also taking part in the tournament were our School of Excellence soccer boys and netball girls. The local police and health department were very involved on the day, making it the success it was.

Opening the day before the games was a performance from local traditional dancers which had the crowd amazed as the little boys and girls showed off their talents to the beats of the drum. When that was done, the first round of soccer started.

The community was really giving their support, with the old and the young cheering on. Being spectators was not the only way they were getting involved though; the queues for the HIV testing were getting longer by the minute. The added benefit with the mobile clinic at the field was the nurses were also screening for TB, blood sugar, haemoglobin and blood pressure, as well as HIV testing. Some of the children were busy with our life skills team doing activities from our curriculum, which promotes abstinence and educates about this deadly disease. Condoms were also made available to everyone, encouraging safe sex to the youth.

Our School of Excellence netball team won the junior tournament beating their Addo opponents convincingly. The police team was starting to warm up now, knowing the masters game was coming up after the semi-finals of the junior team. With the HIV counselling and testing still carrying on in the mobile clinics, the day was getting even more exciting and the pressure on the local teams was building up. The SAPS team proved to everyone watching that, once you join the force, you go through a lot of fitness training and used this to press home their advantage and win the master’s game.

The United Through Sport SA boys faced the Buffalos in the final round but could just not play down their talent! They were the winners of the tournament, with a 2-1 victory.

The post-match presentation had prizes for the following individuals: top goal scorer, goal keeper of the tournament, player’s player, player of the tournament and coach of the tournament. The senior team got a floating trophy and bragging rights!

With a total of 74 youth between 13 and 18 years old testing on the day, and 45 between 19 and 35 years old, the day was a success for our first HCT Tournament in Addo. The community of Addo was a pleasure to work with. The event would not have been the success it was, if we did not have support from the Cacadu Health Department, Olive Leaf, the SAPS, the Sundays River Citrus Company (oranges were the order of the day!) and Zola, who co-ordinated all the Addo logistics for us. We look forward to doing some more work with this community, as their appreciation was very encouraging.

Of the 74 children, none were HIV positive and of the older youth, 24% tested HIV positive. This just proved how programmes such as ours are needed to keep the young generation in the HIV-free zone. The community of Addo pleaded us to come back and get their kids more involved in sport. “We are happy when our kids are having fun and learning at the same time, as AIDS is a big problem” commented one of the parents.