Youth get to grips with citizenship

The City of Cape Town's Belinda Walker.

While most school children were sleeping in or watching cartoons, those who took part in Rotary’s Adventure into Citizenship programmes were getting an insight into their future.

Adventures into Citizenship is a programme run by the Rotary Clubs of Cape Town and Wynberg for pupils in Grade 11 and 12 from across the Western Cape and Northern Cape.

The focus of the programme is to develop civic leadership among pupils and to provide scope for opportunities that they could take up after finishing school.

Two pupils from each Rotary Club were selected (and sponsored by their Rotary Clubs) from across the province to take part for the week-long programme, which culminated in a lunch at the Civic Centre, where the pupils were addressed by mayoral committee member for community services and special projects Belinda Walker.

Part of the programme in-cludes a trip to Parliament, the High Court and various universities, with participants learning about how provinces, cities and countries structure themselves.

The initiative was started by the Cape Town Rotary Club and traditionally takes place in the first week of the winter holidays.

This year it was hosted by the Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck in Gardens

“It’s a very diverse group and that is very important. They live in the same hostel, eat together, dance together and it hopefully builds bridges between our cultures,” said Oranjezicht resident Steven Boers, who is a member of the Cape Town Rotary Club.

Mr Boers said these kinds of programmes were more important than ever.

“We’ve got kids here of a high calibre, and many of them are real leaders in our society.”

The programme, said Mr Boers, gave them a wide overview of how society functions.

“When we first got involved five years ago, there were 28 pupils and this year we have 52. It’s a handful,” joked Mr Boers.

Ms Walker welcomed the pupils at the Civic Centre at their lunch on Friday, encouraging them to pursue their goals, even if they wanted to become involved in politics one day.

“It’s an interesting place, and often people don’t realise what a complicated organisation it is that keeps the city running. All of this is sometimes taken for granted. These things require people who care about other people.”

She told the pupils that 27 000 people worked for the City of Cape Town in fields ranging from engineering to arts and culture and water maintenance. She impressed upon the pupils the importance of pursuing a career that interested them.

“There’s nothing that should stop you following your passion. If you don’t enjoy yourself, you won’t do your best.”

Ms Walker also stressed the importance of maintaining networks and friendships.

Lara Harris, a matric pupil at Wynberg Girls’ High School, said her highlights included an ice-breaking dance, a trip to Parliament and a tour through the historical Company’s Garden.

Reabetsoe Lesoetsa, who lives in Mossel Bay and is a Grade 11 pupil at Hillcrest Secondary School there, said his highlights included the visits to UWC and the naval base, and he had also enjoyed the group bonding sessions.

“Everybody has their own ideas, and we found out that some like to be leaders and some are good listeners. It helped us come to together.”