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.
The Health Academy is a youth centre for the young people of Edendale and surrounding areas. The programmes we have should appeal to the young people, the adaptation of the new pop culture and trends starts with the hip hop classes starting at the Health Academy by The Spar10z.
The Spar10z are one of Pietermaritzburg’s popular hip hop groups, they consist of five members. They entertain and uplift young people, encouraging positive behaviour through dance and music. Part of the Local Youth Committee run by the YMCA PMB under this committee the Spar10z mentor young dancers. With a mission of developing and empowering youth through a medium of dance. Have been on the scene since 2008 and have so many achievements, they also appear on a TV show on SABC 1 on Mondays at 16h00pm.
They are due to start the hip hop lessons on the 28th of March 2012 at 15h00pm for one hour. The lessons are open to young people from the age of 10 to 22. There is going to be a lesson every week and when the young people are good enough they are going to start a WKU Hip Hop Crew as a product of the Health Academy and the Spar10z.
Young people accessing health services such as Family Planning or ARV Clinic can go the Health Academy and not think about the challenges they are facing, meaning everytime they going to the Health Academy they are going maybe for ARV treatment collection or adherence classes but the Health Academy can also be an escape zone from their statuses or family backgrounds.
Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Entebbe, Uganda for a meeting of the Canada-Africa Prevention Trials Network (CAPTN), which works to capacitate African organisations and individuals to carry out HIV prevention research. The CAPTN motto is, "African led, Canadian enabled."
It is a great pleasure for me to be able to contribute to this network, because I myself have a strong personal investment in both Canada (where I spent the first 25 years of my life) and Africa (where I have made my home for the past four years).
This was my first trip to Uganda and only my second to East Africa. I didn't get to see much of the country - it was all business and we were basically confined to our hotel for the whole three days. Fortunately the hotel overlooked the shore of the famous Lake Victoria, which is the source of the Nile River. The lake reminded me of North America's Great Lakes, but although some of the locals were swimming, I didn't venture in for fear of crocs, bilharzia, and whatever other unknown hazards could be lurking. We had plenty of entertainment on dry land though, including traditional Ugandan dancing.
At the meeting we had the opportunity to hear from researchers from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa as they explained exciting collaborative HIV research projects that have been or are being carried out in these African countries with support from CAPTN and the collaboration and mentoring of Canadian researchers. We were able to strengthen existing research partnerships and build new ones.
I presented to the attendees about the WhizzKids United Health Academy, which was very well received. I also gave an overview of the research projects we have undertaken since 2008, which made it obvious that our research capacity has been growing rapidly since joining CAPTN one year ago. I was also able to contribute to the capacitation of fellow researchers by running a brief workshop on Probability and Statistics - my particular area of specialization. Stats skills are in short supply in Africa, as everywhere else in the world, and it sounded like there could be a need for a more comprehensive statistics workshop at a future network meeting.
All in all it was a very positive experience, both professionally and personally. It is very encouraging to see the excellent HIV prevention research being conducted in Africa by Africans, and I look forward to continue contributing to and learning from the CAPT Network.
I just started working with WhizzKids United in February 2012 and I'm loving it. On Friday the 2nd I went to my first WhizzKids United graduation tournament at Hambanathi Stadium (Tongaat Community) with Mbonisweni Primary School. Except that it was a hot day, the tournament went very well. About nine teachers came to observe the tournament and they also helped out wherever necessary.
It was really good to see some kids participating in some sorts of Physical Education since it is no longer compulsory in schools. Our programme including the tournament provides an environment where kids learn about important life skills, which can be applied in real life as they grow. It also helps them to connect as a school and gives them confidence to be open to their parents (feely talk about their love life).
WhizzKids United is already making a huge impact in many youngsters. Kids are being groomed to be well-behaved men & women. This will definitely help our community and South Africa as whole. 277 kids participated in the tournament and our staff members were able to deliver a very successful tournament to appreciate the school for participating in our “On the Ball” life skills programme. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the kids had much fun.
I have always wanted to be part of the solution everywhere I go especially in a disadvantaged background, so this is a very good opportunity for me to contribute in the community.
It's amazing how fast time flies! Eight months ago, I arrived in South Africa excited, terribly nervous yet ready to contribute to WhizzKids United. I didn't have any grand expectations beforehand. But, I just wanted to make sure that when my time here ended, I could walk away with fond memories and the ability to say that I worked for a great cause. As I prepare to return to the United States, I can definitely say that I will always cherish my experiences and the platforms we have to support the youth of South Africa.
My position with WhizzKids United has allowed me to do so much in a short span of time. From utilizing soccer to foster youth development to representing our NGO in various places, I have been truly blessed to take part in a multitude of different tasks and projects. And the best part is to have the backing of a dedicated and diverse team rooting for you and willing to help you every step of the way. Without the help of my colleagues, there would be no way that I could do any of the things I've achieved!
Plus, there's no better feeling than to actually see the smiles on children's faces as a result of your work. It's the exact moment when you see a child's eyes light up by simply providing a ball, goals, bibs and a pitch for him and his classmates. From that point on, you can just sit back and enjoy the on-field competition, hilarity and attempts of emulating their favorite players like Rooney, Beckham or Tshabalala. Whether its the school grounds or our Health Academy, its a scene that never gets old and a constant reminder of how sport can positively impact young lives.
To speak bluntly, it sucks leaving such a great organisation behind. But, I see WhizzKids United only getting better and stronger in the near future. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to work within a team of strong and inspiring individuals. In addition, I am happy that I had the chance to work for the purpose of "bringing football to life." Thank you, WhizzKids United! It has been a great privilege to work with you in serving the youth of South Africa!