With a growing concern around youth in gang and drug afflicted communities during the winter school holidays, the Western Cape Government has launched a youth holiday programme aimed at ensuring pupils are exposed to recreational and educational opportunities. During a joint press briefing with other departments at the Provincial Legislature on Thursday, Western Cape MEC for Social Development, Albert Fritz said he believed the project will also provide supervision and guidance to pupils in impoverished communities who often fall victim to unhealthy and risky lifestyle choices.
“The department of Social Development hosts numerous youth programmes throughout the year and via our six regional offices. In the Metro South Region, the department will host sports and cultural activities in Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Athlone, Grassy Park, Hout Bay and Fish Hoek from 29th June to 11th July 2015,” Fritz said.
The joint initiative included MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sports, Anroux Marais and MEC of Education, Debbie Schafer. Schafer told VOC News that the department’s contribution to this initiative will be through its Safe School Campaign. The campaign will focus on ensuring schools are safeguarded from vandals and thieves. In addition, the education department will also allow for each district to organise educational programmes of their own, on the basis of the needs of that said community.
“We have programmes which include topics like peer-pressure, moral values, substance abuse, HIV/Aids and sexual abuse along with truancy gangsterism and bullying,” Schafer explained.
On the part of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Marais said a special programme will be offered in the rural areas for a two week period kicking off on the 29th June 2015. These programmes will be hosted at select schools, of which majority are primary schools. Activities include a variety of sports such as football, netball, cricket, tag rugby.
“Also, chess and cultural indigenous games are also on offer at certain schools,” Marias said.
Lastly, the Department of Community Safety has rolled out its interfaith initiative which, for its fourth year running, which will work through local religious leaders to reach more than 11 000 youth, predominantly in high priority communities where socio-economic challenges along with gang violence are rife. R5.8million has been spent on 27 000 children and youth over the past three years already.
“We believe the value of this partnership with religious leaders and government has been demonstrated. This year, we will be expanding the project with another R8 million for both the current and December school holiday period. Workshops, first aid classes, basic counselling training and exhibitions will also be on offer to the kids,” Plato added.
The programmes are open to the all the youth. To find out more about the school programmes, visit the Western Cape government website on www.westerncape.gov.za. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)