SA youth awarded for doing community work

Friday, September 21, 2012
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - South African youth have been honoured at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House for their determination and efforts in improving the lives of those who are less fortunate.

Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Obed Bapela honoured the youth with the President's Award for Youth Empowerment on Thursday evening.

The award aims to motivate young people to become involved in a balanced programme of voluntary self-development activities to take them through the potentially difficult period between adolescence and adulthood.

"The significance of these awards is that it gives young people an opportunity to volunteer to spend their energy on community work to improve the lives of those who are less fortunate in life. Again, these awards give young people experience as well as make them responsible.

"We think that if many people can do so, our country will go a long way in nurturing its youth and also investing in them for the greater future. So we are saying to our young people, don't just stay at home or street corners, do something in your respective communities and you will be recognised," he said.

In congratulating the 60 Gold Award recipients from Gauteng, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal, the Deputy Minister said: "I challenge you to keep living the award in all you do. Continue working with the less privileged in the way that you have.

"Continue learning new skills and challenging yourselves in various ways as you move into the future. Our country needs young people like you to make it happen."

Bapela also announced that the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) is currently in the process of signing its first Service Level Agreement with the organisers of the President's award programme, to further support the organisation's work.

"Through this partnership, we hope to create greater access to the Award Programme, enabling more young people to develop themselves through this exciting international initiative," he said.

According to Bapela there is a lot of building blocks which ought to be placed with young people, including helping them through challenging them to think out of the box and exposing them to experiences and pushing their own boundaries.

Bapela said what they need to do was to believe in their ability to develop themselves and make a contribution to their communities and society.

"Listening to the young people speak this evening was a real inspiration that we need to touch more young people in South Africa, through the Award Programme so that they can start creating a future that is built on a solid foundation.

"It is not easy, but we need to work hard to develop the positive energy of young people in this country there is a lot of it and we need to harness it," said Bapela, who represented the Patron in Chief of the organisation President Jacob Zuma.

Gold award recipient, Jonathan Seland, 18, said he learnt a lot of things through helping other people.

"For me it is very important to help different communities, teach people how to read and those who are injured. Receiving the President's award means that you are able to put an effort into something."

Clare Walker, 17 said: "I really enjoyed doing community work. It is so humbling and I want to urge other young people to make a difference through volunteering in their respective communities."

Learner with disability, Emily Mabasa, received a standing ovation for her touching message on her involvement in the awards.

"I'm not disabled - because disabled means you cannot do anything, I can do anything as long as I'm determined. I might be physically challenged but God gave me a strong mind that I can use and as such I am able to help others.

"If it was not for this award, I would have not discovered my passion for helping others. Through these awards, I realise that I have knowledge that I can share with others. I always push myself to the very end, it helps me in life not to feel sorry for myself as I only have one life and I will live it just like everyone, I only have one difference from others."

In August 2010, at the beginning of the United National's International Year of Youth - President Zuma accepted the role of Patron-in-Chief, from President Nelson Mandela, who is the Founding Patron-in-Chief of the organisation.

Last year, during the Presidential Budget Vote Speech in Parliament, President Zuma called for companies and funding entities to support the valuable work that the Award was doing for young people in South Africa.

The Award Programme was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1956 as The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

Today, the Award Programme, through the network of The International Award Association is operated in more than 120 countries, with 21 in Africa.

In South Africa, the Award Programme started out as the Gold Shield Award in 1983 and 11 years later, in 1994, with the dawn of the new democratic South Africa, was re-launched as The President's Award for Youth Empowerment.

The Programme has four sections designed to provide a balanced programme of personal development which are service, skills, physical recreation and adventurous journey.

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