Olwen Carson, one of the three 2018 Change Agent for Sustainability Award Winners says:
Our team (Solomon Mahlangu High, Kwanobuhle township, Eastern Cape) won the Youth Citizens
Action Programme National Championships in 2015 – in our debut year. The topic was latecoming.
The team then went on to present their project at the Uitenhage District’s Principal’s Meeting and
to Cluster C in Cradock, at the request of the national oﬃce of Department of Education, who saw
the presentation at our school.
In 2016, our school project was on Poverty in Education and its link to falling marks. The team raised
money to buy warm winter jerseys for a number of learners, after having an awareness meeting in
the community. They were supported in their initiative by the Grade 12 boys at Grey High School in
Port Elizabeth, who collected money for the same project. In addition to this they donated
their school shoes at the end of that year. The team also collected groceries and took them to two
homes in the June-July holidays, as they knew the learners and their families were destitute. They
spoke with both the learners and their mother to motivate and encourage them. The team also
assisted a learner and her family when their home was burnt down in 30 minutes. They were then
introduced to members of SANCO SA National Civic Organization, who worked with the team and
found a temporary home, which could be erected on the site of the original home. Our team took
3rd place at the National Championships.
Both of the above teams did their presentations for the Eastern Cape MEC of Education. This was at the request
of SANCO and the MEC himself, as he was impressed with their presentation and the level at which they had
What I have learned through YCAP?
YCAP introduced me to the concept of “Active Citizenship” which also speaks to the school’s Vision and
Mission Statement. My involvement with YCAP helped me focus a great deal more on key values –
Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, Trustworthiness, Accountability, Courage and Perseverance.
There are now an automatic and integral part of all my counselling and motivational sessions.
I also educate families on these values to enable them to achieve a greater degree of cohesion.
So many people respond in a meaningful way and express their sincere thanks for the session(s),
as they see it as the school supporting their children.
I learned how to put a solid project in place.
My computer skills have improved.
Through YCAP you meet a variety of people including motivational speakers; DoE oﬃcials at various
levels; parents and children in emotional pain and young people whose lives can be impacted in
meaningful one on one sessions.
Through my professional network I have been able to introduce the school to an NGO which will take
our learners and their mother/guardians on a weeklong camp in the next holiday. This camp is
speciﬁcally for learners who have been the victim of sexual assault. In addition to excellent counselling
they will participate in outdoor activities.
I talk about the seven values with every learner I counsel and with their parent/guardian. We use
them in relation to the learner’s problem such as falling marks, negative social behaviour or any
damaging impact on the family home. It is an eye opener to most people as it seems few people actively
talk about their values or live them out. I use a whiteboard for counselling and write up the values as we
Impact of our YCAP projects on the community
2015 was an important year in the life of our school and YCAP was one of the great parts of our
journey. In both 2015 and 2016 the school was in the press a great deal and our Matric result were
being sustained. The prominence of the positive reports in the press and on social media brought
the name of our school to the fore. There has therefore been a signiﬁcant increase in the number of
bursaries being oﬀered to our Grade 12 learners. Additionally, many more parents have been
applying to our school.
We thank Empowervate, The Department of Basic Education and their sponsors for creating and
implementing YCAP. We have seen the results and encourage all schools to participate in this
empowering and motivational programme.