As a key component of CapeNature’s strategic approach, the Youth Development Programme aims to create in the youth of today a keen appreciation of, and respect for, biodiversity and social conservation, and to contribute to the development of knowledge and skills that will enable them to successfully fulfil the leadership challenges of tomorrow.
The overarching theme of the Youth Development Programme is ‘Putting action into policies and principles’ and this is manifested in three focus areas:
- environmental literacy within the Western Cape – primarily through educational institutions
- skills development – through the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP)
- twinning programme – bringing together young people with and without disabilities, in order to break down misconceptions that adversely affect relationships.
Informing the youth – and through them, the community at large – about conservation issues remains a key element of all activities run under the Youth Development Programme.
The provision of facilities suitable for running youth development and environmental education programmes remains a priority for CapeNature, and work on the design and renovation of three new multi-purpose youth centres of learning is progressing well.
National Youth Service Programme (NYSP)
The second cycle of the National Youth Service Programme (NYSP) in conservation kicked off in January 2007, and will run until March 2008. This was made possible through the R3 million grant received from the Department of Social Services (now Social Development) in 2005/6.
The vision is to:
- grow Human Capital, with the focus on youth.
- promote transformation,
- attract youth into the conservation economy.
The key objectives of the programme are to:
- assist previously disadvantaged youth to become employable through general skills development
- similarly assist such youth to acquire (accredited) skills that would make them employable in the conservation industry
- assist in achieving National and Provincial transformation objectives.
Indirect benefits accrue to CapeNature by having these young people go through the various training programmes; the creation of temporary additional capacity within CapeNature, and a vitality and enthusiasm that emerges from the challenging of existing practices.
School Twinning Programme
The School Twinning Programme is designed to promote personal growth, leadership and tolerance by bringing together, in the natural environment, disabled students and students from mainstream schools.
A pilot camp was held on Table Mountain on 16 and 17 June 2006, and was the result of extensive collaboration between the Western Cape Education Department, SANParks (and their volunteers), the Scouts, Old Mutual and CapeNature.
The programme was considered by all to have been a huge success and plans are being laid for similar follow-up events. The programme achieved the following:
- connecting youth and the natural environment. The results achieved and the responses from the various participants confirm that the natural environment is a powerful vehicle that can be used to develop the leadership potential of our youth.
- promoting inclusivity through giving substance to the concept of a ‘Home for All’ – by bringing together youth with different backgrounds and levels of (dis)abilities and helping them to develop insight into and tolerance of each other.
While these initiatives remain the core of CapeNature’s youth development programme, the other key issues facing the programme are:
capacity building – CapeNature is continually seeking new ways of addressing the shortage in funding and skills available for youth development developing meaningful social indicators – these can assist with the measurement and evaluation of youth development activities.