KwaPata Tournament - a story of countless smiles, patriotic hopes and a serious sunburn
posted by Kathleen Ann Runyon on 24 April 2012
The winning team Mexico with their trophy
The winning team Mexico with their trophy

I do not think you can find anything more infectious in this world than a child’s smile. The greatest part of the tournament at KwaPata High School in Edendale was the amount of smiles I saw throughout the day. Each child that participated in the tournament was smiling while playing football or even cheering on their friend on the sidelines. Even though I walked off the pitch with a serious sunburn, I did not care because I was overwhelmed with happiness.

First off, my name is Kathleen. I am an American university student studying abroad in South Africa. I came to South Africa to do a research project. I was interested in looking at the concept of sports and development. The WhizzKids United proved to be the best non-governmental organization to do a case study! Now that I have introduced myself, I can get back to the tournament.

The whole day is based around the tournament. All the children who have gone through the life skills program get to participate in the games. Students are divided into teams consisting of an equal amount of boys and girls and each team represents a certain country. We started off the day with 8 pitches with four teams on each pitch. The teams on one pitch played each other. The team with the most number of wins advanced to the next round.

I have to be honest with you guys, I had team USA on my pitch, and so I was a little biased from the start. With tremendous pride, the kids of team USA advanced to the second round beating England, Algeria, and Slovenia!!!! In a surprising second round, USA played Ghana on my pitch. After a couple of minutes, the whistle blew to signify the end of the game and no one had scored a goal yet. In order to determine which team would go to the next round, the teams went into a shootout! In an exciting shootout, I saw a girl from team USA send a beautiful shot into the back of the goal to advance USA once again! At this point, I believed USA would go all the way! This would be the first World Cup we have won in years. Eventually, in the third round, Mexico destroyed us, 3-0. However, Mexico did end up winning the tournament. Essentially, we lost to the champions, so I was okay with it.

What I loved about watching these games was the high level of play by boys and girls. I mean these students could go to the South African Premier Soccer League and start playing for AmaZulu. In fact, AmaZulu might have a better record with these kids on their team. It was obvious these students possessed a deep passion for the sport. My heart was overjoyed to see girls scoring goals. They did not let the boys trample all over them. They came up to the boys and swept the ball right off their feet. I believe this speaks to the success of the life skills program. Many girls start off timid and disinterested in the program. The girls in the tournament were kicking the boy’s ass! Pardon my French.

Finally, the day ended with an award ceremony and a whole lot of Vienna hot dogs distributed to the students. I walked away from the day physically exhausted from standing out in the blazing South African sun, but my spirits were high. This was an experience I will never forget all because of the smiles and the joy these students brought with them to the pitch.


See the photos from the tournament on the WhizzKids United Facebook page!

The Choir
posted by Nelisiwe Phoswa on 17 April 2012
The choir performing at our Valentine′s Day event
The choir performing at our Valentine′s Day event

In our blog we will introduce the wide range of services and activities that are being offered at our Health Academy. Every week one of the WKU team members gives you an insight into why the Health Academy is so popular and successful in Edendale.

This choir consists of eleven members and most of them are orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). They are multi talented because they split themselves to other services we render like Zulu dance, drama and choir as they do all.

They are so passionate about their choir; they don’t even wait for the master to remind them about the days and times of practice. We practice on Tuesday s and Friday afternoon at 15:00 till 16:30. Our aim is to praise, release stress feel free from their issues

Since the beginning of this year, we got five members who want join the family as we had eleven members now there’ll be sixteen. It pleases me to see the numbers increasing and the high dedication, talent and encouragement everybody shares.

The singing brings joy, peace and faith in their mind and soul and you can see joy written on their faces. They don't even stop singing on their way back home. We have even composed our very own songs about the Health Academy.

However, there are some challenges that we face. We have only two boys in our choir and we would like to bring more for tenor and bass. And most of the kids in the choir are from very disadvantaged families. The choir helps to give them some hope in their lives, but we would like to do so much more for them. Our programme for OVC helps already a lot and we are always trying to find you new ways.

I am very happy with the choir; it is such a joy to work with those young talented singers. And I am especially happy about the two boys who joined us.

Life Skills Training
posted by Simphiwe Zuma on 11 April 2012
Football drill during the Life Skills training
Football drill during the Life Skills training

In our blog we will introduce the wide range of services and activities that are being offered at our Health Academy. Every week one of the WKU team members gives you an insight into why the Health Academy is so popular and successful in Edendale.

Being a life skills trainer in the Edendale schools is such a great job.

To be honest, I learn a lot myself from being a life skills trainer and also get to know kids more and learn more about how they see things and respond to the knowledge you give them. Sometimes you find kids who are really good in the life skills and some of them are good on the football field - and of course some are talented in both. But each and every one of those kids is a great personality and it is a pleasure to work with them.

I started coaching life skills here at the Health Academy and it has been a great experience for me and I’ve learnt a lot; even own my life skills and knowledge improves each day. At the moment I coach at Muzi Thusi Primary School and it is great working with the kids from that school because they show a lot of interest in the programme and our curriculum.

To tell you more about my task as a life skills trainer, I teach the kids how to live healthy and how to take good care of themselves as they grow up to become young adults. I teach them about HIV&AIDS and how it affects the human body, and also about the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the best ways to avoid them. The 3-session Sexual Health manual, which I use, is the key for my training. It explains all the activities and football drills that help young people to understand the life skills and gets them motivated in this great programme.

In order to enjoy and be able to run a proper life skills training, you should be flexible and energetic because kids need to have fun and encouragement. It is important for me as a coach to be around when the kids need help, even outside of the life skills session.

ARV Clinic
posted by Nonhlanhla Madlala on 4 April 2012

In our blog we will introduce the wide range of services and activities that are being offered at our Health Academy. Every week one of the WKU team members gives you an insight into why the Health Academy is so popular and successful in Edendale.

It is very gratifying to work with an organisation with such a fresh, innovative, and yet simple approach to communicating with young people! The best thing is that these young men and women respond positively to being empowered to take ownership and responsibility for shaping their own futures.

This new-found personal empowerment gives them the optimism to ensure optimal health; whether it be by increased compliance to treatment OR prevention of any future sexually transmitted infections (STI's).

We still have big challenges facing us - with the high levels of poverty, child-headed households, elderly caregivers with little or no social support, remnants of societal stigmatization - to name a few. But with such an enthusiastic team, each challenge is faced as a unit, with a multi-pronged approach towards seeking possible solutions.



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