- Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012 08:32
Karen Nelson from the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) gives her reflections on a powerful and memorable day in Drakenstein visiting our Hope Academy.
Sport transcends boundaries by uniting people around a common goal. Community development empowers people to effect personal change leading to change in their communities. When the disciplines of sport and development meet, it creates a unique investment opportunity – in the future of the individuals, the future of the communities they come from, and ultimately the future of our country.
For our first 2012/2013 education event, we asked Ambassadors in Sport (AIS), an international organisation that occupies this space between sport and development, to share their vision and experience in this exciting area of social investment.
YPO Winelands families were warmly welcomed by our hosts, Drakenstein Correctional Centre, and Hope Academy Drakenstein (a project of AIS). The two organisations share a close working relationship and a common goal – the rehabilitation and re-integration of the young people they work with.
Tim Tucker, AIS Africa Director, shared their inspiring vision – to offer a football-based program that provides underprivileged children and young people the opportunity to fulfil their God-given potential on and off the field. As he explained – football is their market, faith is their motivation and the future of the academy members, their mandate. The AIS mission is to break trends and provide opportunities. Since 2008 34 young men have graduated from the academy and have been released from prison. Of the 34, almost 50% are studying or working, and only 10% are back in prison.
Chris and Simphiwe, 2 graduates of the programme, shared their stories with us. We learned many lessons from them – crime is a choice; the road to rehabilitation starts with taking responsibility for your actions; life in prison is hard, but sport can bring hope and purpose; absent fathers leave dark holes, but our Heavenly Father can fill the emptiness! Both young men are using the skills they acquired at Hope Academy to turn their lives around, and bring a message of hope to others.
After an inspiring morning of presentations and interviews, it was time to stretch our legs, some getting more active than others! While their parents visited with the Hope Academy members in their cell, the kids brushed up their soccer skills with the coaches and graduates.
Many challenges face these young men both inside prison and once they are released. We invite you, YPO Winelands to help turn these challenges into investment opportunities. It will prove to be an investment in the future of our country, and eternity!
Karen Nelson - YPO