Through skateboarding, this social volunteering 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.
|Location||Isithumba Village (closest town: Cato Ridge), South Africa|
|Duration||From 2 weeks|
|Dates||All year round|
|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|
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.
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/natural resources. 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:
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.
This project can be emotionally draining. It is important that you are aware of this before applying for this project. We will assist you during your stay to make sure that you are coping with the experience, but you need to mentally prepared to be open to the challenge as this project is quite isolated from city life.
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.
Catharina from Germany ()
"Volunteering for this project has been one of the most life-changing experiences of my life. Living in the Isithumba Village, working with the kids and getting to know the Zulu culture was not only fun but it also gave me a new perspective looking at my life at home. If you like working with kids, enjoy the beauty of nature and want to experience something completely different from home, I can only recommend this project to you!"