Project offers boys a brighter future

Programme director Rodney Brown with the founder of the Callas Foundation, Caroline Peters.

A project to steer Cape Flats boys aged 11 to 16 towards a brighter future was launched at the Bridgetown Community Centre on Friday

The Triple B project includes a workshop every Friday, from 4pm to 7pm, for 35 boys who will hear from positive mentors and learn how to resolve conflict without violence, resist the pull of gangs and challenge stereotypes, according to Caroline Peters, the founder of the Callas Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Bridgetown, which is running the programme with support from Saartjie Baartman Centre social workers and various community groups.

It is hoped that the programme, which will also give the boys a chance to talk about their feelings while exposing them to activities such as sport and hiking, will help to reduce violence against women.

“Boys are most vulnerable between the ages of 10 to 16. The gender-based violence rate is so high in this community. There are many unreported cases at SAPS, but victims do report it at our offices,” said Ms Peters.

Programme coordinator Rodney Brown said: “Empowering and breaking cycles of bullying, victimisation and stereotyping is what this project aims to do.”

Mentor Clinton Liederman said boys aged 11 to 16 were very impressionable and too often looked up to the wrong people.

“We want the positive role models to step up. Youngsters are looking at ex-prisoners as role models, and we want to change that.”

The programme would teach the boys leadership, resilience and emotional intelligence “so they react to things in a better way than they are now”.

He added: “We want to teach youth that it’s okay to have emotions and feelings and use it to make a better society.”

Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen encouraged the youth at the launch to put their trust in those running the programme.

“It’s easier to break down than build up, but trust that the partners will help build you up,” he said.

Bridgetown Community Development Forum founder Chris Osborne said boys who committed to the programme could change their lives for the better.

“Just because you are from Bridgetown doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. My development started here. The forum’s role is to bring development into Bridgetown, to change lives and live good lives, not caught up in drugs and gangs. I am super proud to be part of this project. I want to give back. If you work hard and commit yourself to the project, your life can only be better. We need men and women to walk alongside the youth.”

Pastor Trevor Abrahams, from the Celebrate Recovery programme, encouraged young people to believe in themselves.

“You can become something in life; many people from Bridgetown did. Many people back then didn’t have mentors, and now, as adults, they are struggling. There are opportunities out there, grab them.”

Singer Joshua Petersen said: “As males, we play follow the leader, but you can be your own leader and not a follower. Make the right choices in life.”

About 50 people attended the Triple B project launch at the Bridgetown Community Centre on Friday February 2.
Police Oversight and Community Safety MEC Reagen Allen
Bridgetown Community Development Forum founder Chris Osborne
Pastor Trevor Abrahams, from the Celebrate Recovery programme, encouraged young people to believe in themselves.
Singer Joshua Petersen provided some entertainment.