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Valley of a 1000 Hills

Through skateboarding, this project brings together people from diverse backgrounds. Skateboarding gives rural and vulnerable youths self-esteem and pride. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble and brings them a sense of freedom, possibility and purpose.

Valley of a 1000 Hills

Overview:

Location Isithumba Village (closest town: Cato Ridge), South Africa
Duration From 2 weeks
Dates All year round
Requirements
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You need a love for children and you should display sensitivity and empathy
Minimum Age: 17
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, police clearance certificate
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday

Highlights

  • Work and live in a Zulu village.
  • Learn how to skate or improve your skills with a professional skater from South Africa.
  • Be instrumental in the change that takes place in vulnerable youth.
  • Experience warm and tropical weather all year round.
  • Experience the Zulu culture and traditions first hand.
  • Work with the local kids and elderly from the community.
  • Take part in excursions outside of the project: Waterfall hikes, surf trips, safaris, etc.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

In 2001 skateboarding was fast becoming an attractive activity amongst youths throughout South Africa as it was an expression of a new-found freedom without limits and boundaries. In an attempt to include rural and vulnerable youths in the sport, South African professional skateboarder Dallas Oberholzer set out to nurture a sustainable skateboarding environment in a rural Zulu village in an attempt to bring people from diverse backgrounds together and add credibility to the power of sport, specifically skateboarding, as a tool for nation building.

The project’s presence was instantly embraced by the local community while the local chief gave them land in kind. The focus on development soon shifted to upskilling young leaders within the community, creating jobs and sharing in the project’s vision to put the work in then, knowing that it would provide for everyone’s future. This is how, from merely playing innocently together 15 years ago while skateboarding, young leaders were in turn nurtured and are now the leaders of the Skate Camp Youth Movement.

They see their movement and facilities as safe places where youths can grow up in a healthy, inspiring and active environment. The staff that run the facility coordinate daily programmes with youths after school, sharing knowledge of wellbeing, nutrition and fitness. In the library anything goes down, from art classes to technology, film and photography.

Still, the project’s biggest focus is on developing communication skills, specifically spoken English. Their English improvement programme started by developing a resource library in their facilities clubhouse. They then developed a series of ice-breakers and skateboarding games that prompt spoken English, encouraging crowd participation and support.

Recently the project has added a computer learning/technology centre where they provide internet access to the youth as well as computer literacy courses to both young and old. This is the first computer resource centre built in the Valley and the prospects of utilising this centre for improved education and social integration are key to empowering our neighbouring community.

Rural communities in South Africa are plagued with lethargy, the skate park has engaged youths in their growth, development and maintenance. This world-class facility has been built by their own skateboarders and in doing so they have nurtured skills in others.

Your Role

The morning starts with general maintenance and ground keep. Plants/gardens need watering and care while preparations for the afternoon’s programme commence. If there is any building or maintenance going on, you are expected to help. This could involve sourcing local materials with trips to the River Bed to collect sand/stone/cow poop. Lunch is from 11.30 until the programme starts at 14.00.

Skating with the kids will be in the afternoon - from 14.00 to 17.00 you will be involved in the daily after school sessions where you will be able to engage with the local skaters and join in the activities in the skate park/clubhouse/computer learning centre. With approximately 40 youths attending the daily programmes, you may assist on an individual level with youths or assist the project team with facilitating activities for the larger groups or a smaller group.

Other activities beyond skateboarding that you may be involved:

  • Art and craft workshops
  • Music and dance
  • Fitness and stretching (yoga)
  • Photography and videography
  • Computer literacy skills
  • Recycling education and sustainable practices

You help with the daily programme until the kids leave at 18.00, thereafter you take turns to cook and clean.

The work varies according to camp projects running, i.e. building, landscaping, gardening, etc. The project coordinators like to use you for your strong points so you will also be given personal projects to complete.

Other possible activities might be sweeping, raking, gardening, litter/clean-ups, cleaning, painting, building furniture, cooking, childcare.

The project runs from Monday to Friday (every day after school), while Saturdays and Sundays are open park days too.

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.

Accommodation

Your accommodation is within walking distance of the project and can accommodate up to 15 volunteers. You are accommodated in dorm-style or twin rooms with a shared bathroom. There will be a maximum of 5 volunteers in one room – men and women separated. The accommodation offers a lounge, a kitchen, a skate ramp, a skate pool, etc. Bedding will be provided. Towels are not provided so you must bring your own. Laundry can be done by hand or for R50 per load in the washing machine. There is a cell phone available – you pay per call. Wi-Fi is available in the lounge/dining area.