We hosted a clean-up campaign of Siza Health Park, a park adjacent to a primary school that was co-built by COPESSA and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo’s on the 10th December 2020. This park was initially designated for building a youth skatepark. It had an outdoor Gym for the community. It fell into disrepair over time, with ‘homeless’ youth who are struggling with substance abuse vandalising some of the equipment and basically moving in into some of the structures. It became not just an eye-sore but also posed great physical and hygienic danger to the nearby residents and school.
Unfortunately, the community we serve is struggling to make ends meet and such communities are known for poor social capital and fatalism. Also, their time and resources are usually taken up by hunting for what the Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs describe as basic needs. All these facts were confirmed by a study we did at COPESSA for a Wits School of Public Health Master’s degree. It was however, gratifying and motivating to see the community taking an initiative to claim back this sacred space and also getting involved with our clean -up campaign. As we all know community involvement is a critical ingredient of community development and for its upkeep. This we want to sustain as we work hard to get resources to improve the security of parks and to assist the youth with the building of the skatepark for which we need donors to fund the building and programme implementation. We truly hope by bringing the light of youth involvement, the darkness of drugs and vandalism will be automatically displaced.
It was also important to time this clean-up campaign during the 16 -Days of Activism. This helped to highlight the importance of safe and clean environments that the World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting as Gender-based Violence and Violence against Children prevention strategies, the core focus areas for COPESSA, and a Human Rights imperative. All these initiatives and our approach with the help of generous donors and philanthropists will assist greatly in the implementation and sustainability of these interventions and hopefully their scaling into other similar communities.
Also, work is continuing with the youth and neighbouring residents, albeit in start-and stop fashion with the changing COVID-19 restrictions, to mobilise them to a call to action towards realising the dream for the skatepark building as well as an integrative programme that helps them develop and nurture their interests. We are also happy to say that the park looks beautiful and clean 3 months after the clean-up campaign.
Update on the campaign
The neighbouring residents had decided that in addition to the cleaning up of the park they wanted to mobilise funds for the repairing of the Park fence. The spaces between the fences had created channels through which members of the public could drive and park their cars in the park and this is not only illegal and against Public Park regulations but also endangering to the lives of the park users. This is a huge milestone in our journey of developing our community with our people. It gives us great affirmation and encouragement that there seeds of agency are taking root in our community through our initiatives
How you can support this programme:
- Sponsor project #Rebacha – We are the Youth -a social and behavior communication change (SBCC) intervention for Gender-Based Violence which includes 3 components:
- Youth Mobilization.
- Skate Park Building
- Mobile Application (Mobile App)
- Youth -Initiated and led Activities based on agreed consensus of participants. (Budget for this project is available upon request)
- Support stipends for Youths as research assistants.
- Sponsor training for leadership and soft skills for organization business
- Sponsor fundraising skills and project management training for youth.
- Sponsor GBV skills training for the young people.
- Sponsor develop monitoring and evaluation of the programme.
- Sponsor one on counselling and group work sessions.
- Sponsorship for Park security and fencing.