Taste of success at Hanover Park skills school

Back, left, are, Ward 47 councillor, Antonio van der Rheede, Sandra Dee, Naomi Stemmet, Roberto Stemmet and Kashiefa Isaacs. In front is the hairdressing facilitator,Lucretia Philander.

Students at a Hanover Park skills school impressed seniors and disabled people from the community who were invited to a day of pampering to showcase their talents and to have them sample their delectables.

On Thursday September 21, the students of Youth Impact and Sustainable Solutions (YISS) were assessed on their hospitality, hairdressing and barber skills.

While the models of the hairdressing and barber students entertained the guests, the hospitality students impressed with their food, which was beautifully presented, and each of the tables had a theme.

Naomi Stemmet and her husband Roberto Stemmet run this public benefit organisation.

Ms Stemmet said the school’s focus was crime prevention.

“We work with school drop-outs, and youths referred to us by the provincial Department of Social Development. We also do crime prevention projects. About 70% of the work we do, is for the benefit of Hanover Park youth, and the rest are from other areas.

“We offer a 35-day programme, and the students get breakfast and lunch. The first 25 days they receive technical training, then they do a five-day business skills training. As many of them have criminal records, it is difficult for them to find work, so we encourage entrepreneurship. The last five days are dedicated to life skills training. The life skills cover a broad range of topics, including rape education and HIV/Aids workshops, how to manage your life, learner licence classes, career guidance, stress management, anger management, trauma counselling, love and relationships, racial integration, anti-gangsterism, and anti-drugs. We basically teach them how to become a model citizen,” Ms Stemmet said.

For the business skills, they are taught how to draw up a business plan and their business profile, financial management, as well as entrepreneurial development training. They are also introduced to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which offers grant funding.

After completing the course, the students go into an aftercare programme with a mentor. All this is offered for free, but the students, after completing all aspects, then owe YISS 200 hours of volunteering a year for three years.

Ms Stemmet said a partnership with Sandra Dee, who is from the Fairy Godmother Community Project and who runs a seniors’ club, led to seniors being invited for pamper sessions and good food.

Ms Dee also occupies a space at the YISS premises, situated on the grounds of Crystal High School in Hanover Park.

“By having the seniors and the disabled here, it inspires them and through this, they also regain respect for the community.

“Some of them have also gained clients from these interactions, because we encourage them to start businesses from home. All our staff at YISS were once students here.

“We work with the whole community – we give parenting skills training, and also train the Hanover Park Business Forum and the
Hanover Park Society,” Ms Stemmet said.

Ward 47 councillor Antonio van der Rheede said the YISS programme offered young people alternatives.

“The threat of gangsterism and drug abuse is imminent. It is here. I just wish government can multiply their funding. A lot of organisations train people, and then they are left on their own. Here it is a hub – they come back. Many children are not academically-inclined and need hard skills. This programme needs to be replicated,” Mr Van der Rheede said.

Student Paulina Scheepers-April, who does hairdressing and trained as a chef, said she appreciated all that she had learnt there.

“I am very grateful for everybody’s input, and Mr Van der Rheede’s support – all this to give me a chance to make something of my life,” she said.

Kashiefa Isaacs, is a former student who is now part of the staff.

“I came here when I decided that it was time to uplift myself. I want to thank everybody involved for this training opportunity, because this is how I could stand up for myself.”