Youth Safety Ambassador Camp Sets the Pace
The Department of Community Safety has this week launched an inaugural Youth Safety Ambassador Camp at Potberg Training Centre at De Hoop Nature Reserve in Bredasdorp.
The camp, facilitated by the Department of Community Safety, as well as Cape Nature and the Naturalist Society, started on Sunday 12 December and finishes tomorrow. Nearly fifty (50) Grade ten (10) learners from all over the province were selected, many of them from gang-riddled neighbourhoods. My hope is to channel their energy - and they have lots of it - into something positive. Young people have a vital role to play in community safety and through this initiative, we are working towards changing their perceptions about safety and how they can influence it.
When they arrived on Sunday, they were all strangers, not really knowing what to expect. Today, with one day to go, they have not only forged lasting friendships, but have learnt to understand the role of young people in making communities safer and how safety is everyone's responsibility.
The topics covered include:
- Responsible citizens and self awareness
- Handling stress
- The risks of substance abuse
- CPFs, neighbourhood watch and community safety
- Constitutional framework
- Leadership development
- Safety and respecting the environment
These highly spirited young people can now appreciate that they have a voice through various civic formations, that they can get involved in their neighbourhood watch programmes, that they are able to influence their peers at school, as well as their families in terms of getting everyone involved in fighting crime and that there is an alternative to spending their time loitering on street corners. They have been empowered to take the lead, spread their wings and spread the message.
Some of them face bigger challenges back home than others, but I believe that they will emerge from this experience stronger and ready to face their challenges head on. They will now share their experiences with their peers and positively influence the behaviour of other young people around them. We have a structured programme in place to stay in touch with them over the next three years, as they complete their schooling and progress to the next phase of their lives.
This camp is a pilot project, and discussions are already underway with the private sector, to expand this initiative. I would like to see more of these camps being presented across the province, until we have succeeded in driving the message home that safety is everyone's responsibility.