There are not many organisations where your last day on the job can be spent watching talented students present their creative marketing and branding ideas for your organisation.
Luckily, for the last three years, I have worked at WhizzKids United (WKU), an organisation where these experiences are made possible all the time. Today, I saw glimpses of the creativity that has taken us this far, and will continue to drive us forward. It made me very proud and happy.
Over the last two weeks I have had the chance to come to terms with leaving WKU, an organisation I have grown to love and through which I have grown personally and professionally. It has not been easy, but I have so much to be thankful for.
I feel proud to have been part of a small and committed team that has grown from less than five people three years ago to over 20 today. I have been given opportunities and responsibilities that I could not have received anywhere else. Most importantly, I have been given the chance to positively impact the lives of young children. For all of this, I am truly grateful.
To everyone who has contributed to WKU; from volunteers, office and field staff to partners and supporters all over the world, I want to say thank you. Many of you have become close friends and I hope to stay in touch.
I know that WKU will continue to change, adapt and grow; and provide the best possible services to young people in South Africa. WKU will always be in my heart, and I hope to remain closely involved in the future.
Leaving the office today, I leave you with feedback that I just read from a 12-year-old boy who recently completed the Life Skills Programme, "No-one is better than WhizzKids. I love WhizzKids."
Marcus, Tom, Gugu and I were privileged to receive scholarships to attend the South African AIDS Conference held earlier in the month. Tom also presented a poster about the Mixed Gender Football League, a project in which 62 out of 64 participants accessed HIV Counselling and Testing and sexual health risk assessment services at the WhizzKids United Health Academy.
At the conference it was interesting to see adolescent-focused centres of sexual health services and psychosocial support, like our WKU Health Academy, are becoming an increasing priority at the national level. In other areas where there is not a Health Academy, WhizzKids United is building capacity at local clinics by training health care professionals to provide adolescent friendly services.
Going forward we hope to integrate our school-based Life Skills and Peer Education programmes more and more with local clinics. In addition, we are planning next year to roll our successful Mixed Gender Football League model at all the schools where we work. Each new programme which we run is now focused on providing that very crucial link between school-based Life Skills and Football Programmes and access to adoescent-friendly health and counselling services.
On Monday and Tuesday this week, all the office staff attended the 7th World Conference on Youth, Culture and Sport at the International Convention Centre. It was interesting to meet and hear from delegates from different member states all over the world talking about sport for development. One of the speakers talked about the power of storytelling and getting feedback directly from programme beneficiaries.
Our programme has just finished the first year of operations in Jozini and here is some of the qualitative feedback that we have received from the children that took part in the programme.
"I would like to say that thank you to WhizzKids United they do a wonderful things thanks a lot, God be with you" "I think that the WhizzKids it good for my life." "I would like to say we are very happy cause we learnt more about HIV/AIDS and we enjoyed football drills,I am so proud for you WhizzKids United." "What I have improving in the WhizzKids United is to know how to play a football and to stand in positions,in HIV/AIDS I have learned about how to protect yourself when you having sex and to wer condom." "WhizzKids is the rock" "You helped me to set up my goal." "I think the WhizzKids United improved things that happen in my life." "Whizzkids United you changed our lives not to be involved in crime." "I wish to be the part of the WKU with all my heart" "I like the WKU because they protected my education" "I hope you are doing a great job WKU staff" "I thank you for your experienced that you gave us was more compare to our teachers" "I would like to say thank you to WKU we loved you"