One of South Africa’s prominent youth climate activists, Ayakha Melithafa along with her fellow ‘YouLead Warriors’ who have completed the year-long YouLead Initiative, have received their Bronze Presidents’ Awards for Youth Empowerment at a ceremony on the 22 November 2019 at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. The YouLead Initiative is run by local environmental justice NPO Project 90 by 2030.
For the past 9 months, ‘YouLead Warriors’ from Khayelitsha have actively participated in understanding climate change and the impact it has on South Africa, through a number of experiential activities which all contributed towards their achieving their Bronze President’s Award.
The YouLead Initiative is completed within the framework for the President’s Award that covers 4 core areas:
Participants underwent the “Playing with Solar” module, assembling solar light boxes to be used in their homes to power three lights and a cellphone charger. The skills learned included basic circuits and how they are assembled, under the guidance of the Engineers Without Borders UCT. These boxes are currently being installed in their homes in Khayelitsha.
- Physical Recreation
Participants were introduced to the game of Ultimate Frisbee and the importance of team spirit and a fun, physical activity. Catch 22 Ultimate Frisbee coached and supported participants through their first two matches and have built the foundations for future healthy activities. Many of the warriors enjoyed the sport and the lessons of leadership and teamwork associated with the game.
- Adventurous journey
YouLead Warriors have the opportunity to hike in the amazing beauty of Table Mountain and push themselves to complete some rigorous hikes. Building fitness is important in the training for the final overnight stays on the mountain. Physical and mental endurance are part of this adventure that is facilitated by UCT’s Siyenyuka Outreach Programme and enhances the personal leadership skills of our youths.
The Community Service aspect was undertaken with a permaculture course for all the warriors, leading into the cleaning of a neglected space that was ultimately turned into a small vegetable garden. Building soil and planting vegetables is an important part of building climate resilience.
- Climate Change
All of these areas while developing attributes of personal leadership, teamwork, communicating powerfully are centred around the environment and Climate Activism with warriors also developing key messages for participating in the Global Climate marches.
Project 90 by 2030 is proud of all the achievements of all the participants over the year. Three of the participants have been elected onto the African Climate Alliance council and Ayakha Melithafa has gone on to become internationally recognised through her powerful Communication Skills.
The programme brings together warriors in a close network of motivated youths that use the practical experiences and life skills, building confidence, hiking in nature and engaging with their communities as our future climate activists.
The warriors received their Bronze Presidents Award on 22 November 2019, which “suggests to an employer or a scholarship adjudicator that the individual has gone beyond the minimum in preparing themselves for the world of work and further learning.”. Project 90 by 2030, through their YouLead program, is making South African youths #WorldReady!