Young people carry a wealth of untapped potential that is often lost to the economy and their communities.
The groundBREAKER programme, established in 2001, and one of the most well- respected and well-recognised programmes in the country, has shown that youth leadership is a powerful intervention, which causes a ripple effect in improving various aspects of young peoples’ lives. The programme formed the backbone of the organisation’s historic mission of HIV prevention and going forward, it will remain key to bettering of the lives of the groundBREAKERs(gBs) and their broader communities.
To deliver on its mandate, this national corps of youth volunteers (groundBREAKERs aged between 18 and 25) and younger volunteers (mpintshis ages 12-17) implement and are various programmes, including life skills, healthy sexuality and skills development, in schools, Y-Centres, Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services and social franchise hubs. Through these programmes loveLife engages face-to-face with nearly 1.5 million young people annually in all nine provinces in South Africa.
loveLife’s hubs form the bases for community implementation. The groundBREAKER (gBs) network delivers the loveLife programmes in schools, arranges events; sets up sports leagues, organizes sporting competitions and recreational activities and host local community dialogues. Furthermore, gBs establish local level partnerships to expand loveLife’s reach and promote healthy lifestyles through loveLife’s compelling and innovative programmes
Over the course of a year on average 1000 groundBREAKERs, using the Y-centres, community hubs and franchises as a base head out into the community and schools and deliver programmes that are developed by the youth and for the youth. Annually the organisation recruits 2000 to 3000 mpintshis. Before they join loveLife their employability is around 12% but when we look at the statistics post their term as groundBREAKERs and mpintshis, their employability jumps to 59% – that’s the impact of the programme. They come out more confident, savvy and in tune with their abilities. Without question, the groundBREAKER programme is a big contributor in creating an ability to be employed.
The programme is a youth development initiative that equips young people, through voluntary service, with the skills and motivation they need to continually give back to their communities, better themselves and those around them. The programme is strictly for a 12 months period beginning in January and ending in December in each year of implementation, and is in most cases preceded by a 12 month mpintshi (volunteer) programme thus allowing young people a maximum of 24 month participation where they serve as a mpintshi and a groundBREAKER.
And while the groundBREAKERs are reaching out to youngsters in the community, they are being supported to discover themselves – their strengths and weaknesses – being taught resilience – that within themselves they have the power to make a difference. The expected outcomes of the groundBREAKER programme increased skills including facilitation, financial management, events planning, monitoring and project management; increased knowledge and a change in attitudes And it’s not just anecdotal evidence that points to the success of this approach.
An evaluation of the groundBREAKER programme conducted by the Volunteer and Service Enquiry found that:
- 50% successfully grow their potential through tertiary programmes;
- 60% (double the national average) find jobs after graduating; and
- 58% find employment
Annual groundBREAKER evaluations indicate that groundBREAKERs exit the programme fully equipped to transition into other opportunities with a strengthened sense of self and personal agency.
They engage in further opportunities that include the following:
- Pursuing Higher Education
- Going into Learnership Programmes
- Formal Employment and
- Establishing their own Non-Government Organisations/Programmes
Cyber YS groundBREAKERs
Cyber Ys is loveLife’s youth-centre based computer literacy programme and we are excited to be adding Computer Science to the programme from 2017. The Cyber Ys programme aims to equip young people with basic Information Technology (IT) skills, equipping young people with skills of how to use: Windows, Microsoft Office, Internet and e-mail. that they can use to pursue a career or employment in the field of IT. Computer scientists specializes in the theory of computation and the design of computational systems. By understanding computer science, one understands what it takes to create and develop computers and software. The students’ will develop computational, critical thinking and problem solving skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This will open up opportunities to more career paths for graduates. The programme also provides healthy sexuality and positive lifestyle information. Delivered through loveLife Y-Centres (youth centres). Upon completion of the programme, young people receive a certificate acknowledging that they have successfully completed the training course.
Recruited groundBREAKERs (gBs) will attend a training on the Cyber Ys programme each groundBREAKER will be trained by the Microsoft certified trainers. The groundBREAKERs in turn train mpintshis (mps) as part of their post training practicals. The mps will help the groundBREAKERs with the role out of the programme nationally.
After the train-the-trainer trainings, implementation will then take place nationally where at all Y-Centres more than 150 trainers will then train end users (youth within communities and schools nationally these will include community members and learners.
Radio Ys is re-engineered to become the catalyst for the advancement of human capital development, job creation, and entrepreneurship in the Broadcast industry.
Radio Ys is a youthful radio programme that embraces a pragmatic and youth leadership development content to actively engage and sustain engagement with young people in the transformation of the ever changing environment within rural, marginalized and urban communities.
This programme is structured along a peer educator model where the recruited groundBREAKERs are required to recruit x5 other young people (i.e. known as mpintshis) that they would lead and work with in implementing loveLife programmes in their communities. Both groundBREAKERs and mpintshis are encouraged to value community service and to consider their time at loveLife as their opportunity to serve and give back to their communities.
Many of them consider this period as their ‘gap year’ where they get to discover who they are while developing various skills and gaining work experience. The National Department of Health groundBREAKERs also gain a lot of motivation from the fact that the programmes they implement contribute towards priority national outcomes which include a reduction in teenage pregnancies, reduction in HIV infection among young people and increased uptake of health services through the love4Life and Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services programmes that they implement.
The success of this approach has been noted by the Department of Health and it has approached the organisation to see how the groundBREAKERs can assist with its community-based programmes.
In partnership with Department of Health, we are in the process of creating another opportunity for young people that is aspirational, that at the end of their time with the organisation they attain a recognisable diploma through the loveLife Leadership Academy, a sister entity to loveLife that provides training and development.
So loveLife has the potential to really change the experience of the youth in this country –we believe that each young person is born with the potential to succeed, to be anything that they want to be provided they have the support and encouragement to do so. But social ills including unemployment, gender-based violence, substance and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, and HIV infection, among others, continue to place young people at risk. To address through the use of its innovative programmatic approaches, loveLife continues with its strategic objectives of:
- Reducing HIV infection among young people;
- Reducing teen pregnancy;
- Keeping young girls in school; and
- Improving employment opportunities for young people.
The groundBREAKER programme is being aligned with the national campaign on Young Women and Girls, loveLife has an extended groundBREAKER programme. The sole purpose of the extended gB programme is to support the 3 year coordinated campaign plan in partnership with the National Department of Health. By extending the gB programme loveLife will not only ensure that highly skilled youth implement the Young Women and Girls Campaign but that they graduate with even more concrete skills and experiences.
The extended groundBREAKER programme will therefore focus on the specific programmatic content, trainings and skills that are linked to the programme objectives which are to;
- Reduce new HIV infections
- Prevention of teen pregnancy
- Reduce Gender Bases Violence
- Keeping girls in school
Media Y’s Programme:
The Media Ys programme is a citizen journalism programme that capacitates loveLife groundBREAKERs through basic citizen journalism course to document issues affecting young people using the audio visual medium. In order to facilitate robust discussion in communities using community screenings as platforms for distribution.
The strategic objective of the programme is to power the future by elevating voices of young people in rural and urban communities where main stream media does not penetrate.
The programme gives face to the challenges faced by young people. It communicates health awareness messages and seek to find solutions. loveLife believes that the Media Ys programme works as a mirror that projects issues that otherwise communities might not focus on.
The strategic objective of the programme is to power the future by elevating voices of young people in rural and urban communities where main stream media does not penetrate. The programme gives face to the challenges faced by young people. It communicates health awareness messages and seek to find solutions.