My name is Sandile Radebe, a 21 year old male currently doing my honours degree in Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (PMB campus). I reside in Pietermaritzburg but I currently live in one of the on campus residences. From another person’s perspective I seem to live a promising life hence I am in university and I am a few steps away at reaching my dream of becoming a psychologist. I come from an area where crime has dominated the community and substance abuse is the epitome of almost every young individual’s life, where high school dropout rates are high and obtaining a metric certificate is considered as a big achievement. How did I do it? How was I able to make it this far? One may ask such questions. In all honesty, it is because at a young age I was groomed to withstand life’s hindrances by sis’ Nobuhle, Bonginkosi and Thami (deceased) who were working for Africaid Whizzkids united.
It was the year 2007 where me and my peers from the 5th grade at a local school called Mthethomusha senior primary had the honour to be part of the whizzkids united programme. We would go to the sports field and have a session where the facilitators would teach us about important qualities of life like staying focused on how to face life’s challenges and not allow them to hinder your vision of achieving your goal. After each session we would go and play a football game relating to what the session was about, because we were just children we were very much interested in the soccer games. However, as life progressed and years passed we had to go to high school, of which that is the part of life where many young people go through a moratorium. For me life seemed dull as most of the people I called friends ended up giving into peer pressure, conforming just so they could fit in. We were exposed to all kinds of things which were tempting, and not taking part in those things deemed you the black sheep in the house. I was clowned at but because the life skills that Whizzkids had taught me in primary school I was not able to conform.
I was called names because I did not conform and life seemed unfair to me because the only way to earn respect was to be affiliated with the ‘cool kids’ or be part of a squared. I had very few friends and I eventually made it to matric. I knew that my goal was to become a psychologist but I was prepared to even study for anything that will earn me a job at the government sector as I was the first in my family to actually reach grade 12. I had no knowledge about how one goes about entering a tertiary institution, however, the Whizzkids health academy assisted me to gain the necessary information about tertiary education. I was guided by a very nice young lady from the academy explaining to me how I can actually go about studying for psychology, she told me about the requirements. She explained everything to me about completing a CAO form and how I can apply for funding so I can be able to pay for my studies.
I applied and got accepted to UKZN and today I am an honours student all because of the values and life skills that Whizzkids instilled in me. I learned to believe in myself and face hindrances without losing focus on my goal, today I am only a few steps away from reaching it and I am eternally grateful to the academy. That is the reason why I have requested to join the Whizzkids family so to show my gratitude for everything because without the programme I don’t think I would have survived high school and made it into university.
I got to know WKU when they visited Inzuzwenhle Primary School. WKU team visited us and was able to teach us life skills through the power of football called “On The Ball”.
WKU taught us about gender equality. They made us play in the same field with females and it was fun. I enjoyed it even though it was my first time playing football with girls. They taught us about HIV and Aids and how to always be safe when having sex. We learned about diseases that we can possibly get after having unprotected sex.
The ON THE BALL PROGRAM is one of the most innovative ways to get through to teenagers.
One day I came across the WKU offices when passing through a path way at Edendale I met a precious person, Ms Gugu Mofokeng. She gave me all the information I needed. I registered for the Mix gender league which was going to start in 2011.
I also got an opportunity to play Brazil and got to exchange knowledge with other cultures in football and life in general. I was part of the 5 aside football for hope festival which was the best experience ever.
I relocated in 2015 but I continued to use the skills and life lessons I got from WKU. In 2018 I returned to Pietermaritzburg, my home town. I enrolled at WKU as a Game Changer. This is a program that enrolls members in the community that finished matric (highest level in secondary schooling) and teaches and prepares them for work place environment. As a Game Changer we were given the opportunity to host events which touched local community members.
In April 2019, I was given the opportunity to join the WhizzKids United PR and Marketing Team with students from Durban University of Technology (DUT). Our main responsibility is marketing and fundraising.
Being involved with WKU activities for kids prevented me from joining gangs and turning to substance abuse. The best thing is it kept me healthy. I got to know about WKU from the age of 13. This is 9 years later and I am very proud to still part of the WKU team and contributing to their vision and mission.
Barely a month at WKU and already our seven young Game Changers took on the task of planning and hosting WKU ‘vacation fun time’.
The team of seven (7) are Senior High School (SHS) and Tertiary graduates all unemployed. Four (4) are SHS, one (1) a nurse and the other two (2) Technical School graduates (an electrician and electronics).
WhizzKids organises vacation activities to keep the youth active during their holidays. This time around the game changers facilitated all the activities. They came up with a time table and poster for the activities. They took them through football fun activities, games and adolescent reproductive health, menstrual hygiene, debate, music, dance, reading, storytelling, art and craft and a talent show. They also organised a health screening for thirteen (13) of the girls who are older.
According to the game changers it was an eye opener for them. They enjoyed the experience of being teachers and mentors. Though it was hectic and challenging, they say they are up to the task come next vacation. The Game Changers said, “Game Changers programme has imparted greatly on us as individuals. It has made us think critically as to when issues arise and how to go about solving them. Through GC we learnt how to listen to others ideas, views and work together as one big team. WKU has brought our confidence level high. We can now boldly stand and speak confidently before a group of people”.
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