YMCA Ravensmead is a small branch that is an offspring of YMCA Capeflats in Capetown South Africa. The branch is still growing and it has low membership and few participants in the programs. However the branch is doing very well in their programs. The branch is running the following programs Y-Zone, Y-Justice, Y-Arts, Local Action Group (LAG) and also several activities.
Under this program the branch’s goal is to try and bring kids together after school so that they don’t end up in streets. We meet with the kids every Tuesday at the local library and teach them life skills. We teach them the concept of being responsible and hard working in life, to teach them how to use beads to make bookmakers, necklaces and bracelets. After making these items they sell them and they get some money from that. On recycling we teach them not to litter but to use them to make something else for example paper beads, coloring using old magazines and making envelops and post cards from used magazines and books. This helps them to grow knowing how to use used material. Also we teach them to construct short sentences through cutting words from the magazines; this really helps them with spellings and construction of good sentences. Sometimes we only have free afternoon where we will be doing just games and the kids really enjoy it. This program is helping these kids a lot judging from the reports we get from their school on how they perform and some of them joined as junior volunteers.
The branch is working with one of the high schools (Florida High School) in Ravensmead, trying to help the learners with personal development skills. For now, they are only working with the leaners not with those who are in prison and out of prison. The idea is to help those who are at the risk of going against the law. As a school they identified some of the students who are at that risks and as a branch we a working with them to try and help them to be on a safe side. Some of the leaners at the school are involved in to gangs and that has an impact on their performance at school. In some cases the gangs comes to the school and becomes so violent and it affects the smooth running of the school. The branch is also working with a pastor from a local church to have one on one session with these leaners to try and help them. Also results are being noticed at the school in terms of how the leaners are performing.
Local Action Group (LAG)
At the same high school the branch is running another program called LAG. Through this program the branch is trying to train a number of learners at the school to be responsible citizens by teaching leadership skills. This program goes hand in hand with the philosophy of Subject to Citizen. We train them leadership skills, how they can make their voice heard and the advocacy strategies. The aim is for the leaners to stand up for themselves and others at school and even in the community. For now they have identified and issue that they want to work on thus to work on the relationship between the teachers and leaners at the school. Most of the leaners in this group are so vocal with leadership skills already and they know what they really want. Some of the members of this group are also volunteers of YMCA. This program is so vital to the learners because as African youths we need these skills considering the challenges we are facing as a society so it needs strategy from this early age.
Under this program the branch is helping the Florida High School drama club in guiding them throughout their journey. They felt that they didn’t have enough support from the school and we saw it as an opportunity to nurture those talents. We meet with them once every week after school. During this time we provide them the skills from our team, some stakeholders and from themselves. With Maria’s help from Teen Sing Norway they managed to recruit more learners and they combined all performing arts for example drama, music, dance and visual arts. We have realized that a lot of them they have talents and they are committed so dedicated ourselves to help them achieve their goals. They are doing well now and we have seen even their teachers chipping in giving them the support they wanted and for us it’s a success.
The branch is also running Y-health, under this program the branch has a basketball team that also participate in some of the programs. Most of the members are working people so they meet late after work and have their sessions. During weekend if we have programs they joined us also. Recently we had a basketball social event where we spend the day as Ravensmead YMCA family. We played basketball and other different games and we had a meal afterwards. We also used this gathering as a recruitment strategy.
Besides these programs there are others activities they do at branch level. For example, we had an S2C training with the volunteers, they also do game nights where all members are invited to socialize and they also use this as fund raising, the branch is also well known in the area in helping those in need for example they donated food, clothes and blankets to the victims of fire in the area last month.
Written by Luisa Katsogoro.