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.

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