We started in 2009 when children in the townships had never seen the beach down the road from their corrugated homes squashed onto dusty streets. When most of these children had no idea of the world beyond their suburb and those in manicured suburbs were disconnected from the reality mere kilometers away. The chasm was large and we wanted to connect it.
There were five of us in the early days with a desire to bring joy and connection between all South Africans through laughter, smiles and new experiences.
Back then volunteers arrived in the townships in 20 car convoys, collecting curious minds from sandy streets to whisk them off to new and exciting adventures intent on feeding their spirits, imaginations and dreams. Our Fun Days were a time for children to meet volunteers from all over Cape Town with many foreign accents scattered through too. These children spent a magical day experiencing a world of wonder, nature and freedom while connecting with new, interesting, nurturing people. Despite a moment of pause caused by COVID we have managed to create 143 Fun Day experiences for 5512 little souls. Check out our TEDx talk to see what we did.
In 2012 and 2013 our Circles and Youth Connect programs were born. Through 60 Circles (extra-mural groups) over 90 volunteers connected with more than 1000 children teaching them new skills such as public speaking, reading, boxing, drumming, writing, arts and crafts. Through our Youth Connect programme nearly 2500 learners connected across privileged schools such as Wynberg Boys and Girls, Herschel and Bishops Secondary and less resourced primaries including Capricorn, Lourier and Blomvlei.
In 2013 we started a Youth Leadership Programme to equip young people to help their communities, to grow themselves and to help them to grow others. Two of these fabulous young people from Gugulethu are employed with us now coordinating our programs and growing the network of other young people as Play Ambassadors getting involved to uplift their own communities.
The level of generosity through these years has been awe inspiring. Sponsorships from the likes of Golden Arrow, Spur, Truworths, OMEGA AIR, Nucleus, CP Trust, Zestcore, Robert and Michael Forth, and Scribbles have been crucial. Not to mention the people who have driven this engine from the inside and out including over 3000 Volunteers.
The advent of COVID has made us regroup and rethink and we are very happy we have survived this tough time. We are proud of our emerging programmes and new direction to bring what we have learnt directly into family homes and community streets and to increase the potential for children and young people to thrive, through good relationships, healthy experiences and play.
A big thank-you to everyone who has joined us on this journey and we look forward to making an impact together during the the next 13 years.