Hanover Park youth shine bright at awards

From left are, Joderick Veldtman,head of youth programmes at Community Action for a Safer Environment, Sakienah Ismail,Razeen Stevens, who both received bronze awards, and Shandré Slinger,who received a gold award at The Presidents Award for Youth Empowerment.

Three Hanover Park youths were honoured with The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, receiving a gold, and two bronze awards respectively.

Shandré Slinger was awarded gold, while Razeen Stevens and Sakienah Ismail each received the bronze medal. The trio are part of Hanover Park-based non-profit organisation, Community Action for a Safer Environment (CASE).

The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment is a non-profit organisation, founded in 1983, and was initially called the Gold Shield Award. The late Dr Ian Player was the first chairperson. In 1994, the organisation was renamed as The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, with the late Nelson Mandela as its patron-in-chief. In August 2010, the baton of patron-in-chief was handed over to President Jacob Zuma.

Any institution or organisation involved with young people from the ages of 14 to 24 can apply to operate the award programme in their facility. These include schools, clubs, companies, sports clubs, youth offender institutions, and child and youth care centres. The award is a programme of activities and participants must complete an amount of activities over a period of months, to be a recipient of an award. For bronze awards, the participant must complete at least 24 hours of service to the community over three months, be involved in physical recreational activities, like sport or dance, for at least three months, skills development (like photography or debating) for three months, and adventurous journey (with adult supervision), where they have to complete a 24km walk, 80km cycling, horseback riding for 48km, canoeing for four hours a day or sailing for six hours a day. The silver level has similar activities, however, the minimum requirements are increased, and must be done over six months, and the gold level challenges are spread over 12 months.

The gold level also includes having to do a residential project with people who are not your usual friends, in an unfamiliar residential setting.

Institutions or organisations like Case, sign a memorandum of understanding with The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, to operate the award programme.

The award programme has proven itself to be a powerful developmental tool for young people. The core of the programme is based on self-development.

Since its inception, The President’s Award has brought about change in the lives of over 130 000 young people in South Africa. It is also holds membership of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association, as part of 140 countries that operate the award around the world.

Joderick Veldtman, head of youth projects at Case, is particularly proud of the three young people who were part of the programme.

Shandré has been part of Case’s Youth in Action programme since Grade 10. She received her silver award in 2014 – the same year she completed matric at Mount View High School. Last year, she volunteered on Case’s aftercare programme and Youth in Action programme, while at the same time completing her levels for a gold award, as well as doing a short course in office management. At the moment, she is involved with NPO, Educo Africa’s, youth voter campaign, called Swing Your Vote – an initiative that encourages young people to vote.

Razeen and Sakienah, are both 17 years old, and are part of the Youth in Action programme at Case. Both are also Grade 12 at Crystal High School and are part of the Metro police youth cadets.

Said Shandré: “This award means a lot to me. It changed me for the better. I learnt so much from volunteering. This was something I needed to do, as I saw so many things that needed to be fixed in my community. It was also exciting receiving the award, engaging with people from other areas, and visiting new places. The ceremony was also very elegant. I would definitely encourage other young people to do this.”

Razeen said the award means a lot to him, as it might “open doors” for him in future. “I got to interact with youth and children, and I believe this interaction will help me find my passion, as I decide on what to do with my future. I am part of the Metro police youth cadets, and this is something I would also like to pursue as a career. The award involved a lot of hard work, but it was well worth it,” he said.

Sakienah said stepping onto the stage to collect her award was exhilarating. “I was nervous, but I had a big sense of accomplishment – even though it was bronze. During this programme, I learnt about working in a team. I generally prefer to work on my own, because when I do something, I like to give my all. My standards and expectations are high. Now I am aiming for the gold award,” Sakienah said.