Life-changing education for De Rust children

Top: A YOUPSA Afterschool Enrichment Programme group: Chante, Biano, Shaun, Nicolene, Beoline, Shadine, Cherildene, Nicole, Tersia, Erica, Berodine, Shivano, Mariska, Alexis (Photo supplied)

A world you might not know about, a world so close yet unnoticed by most, is the life of rural De Rust children.

The Nonprofit Organisation ‘YOUPSA’ (an acronym for ‘Youth Potential South Africa’), founded in 2015, has been operating in the De Rust area for some years. Its creative educational programmes open up opportunities for young people who otherwise would never see any further than their immediate surroundings.

Before beginning their programmes in De Rust, the organisation researched the situation in the area. There was a desperate need, as there was not any support for the majority of young people. Every child has potential, something unique and positive to contribute to the world, and YOUPSA helps them to discover this.

Common to all residents of De Rust and its visitors is that they love to see wind pumps spinning, a herd of sheep crossing the road, the vast horizons of the Swartberg Mountains and experience the special Klein Karoo ambience. But have you also noticed the many brilliant children wearing grins wide as the sky?

According to the 2011 census (latest published) there were approximately 4900 children living in and around De Rust. Who knows any of these youngsters? Who knows their strengths and talents?

In their Afterschool Enrichment Programme, YOUPSA builds a close relationship with each child and nurtures their abilities. For example, Jessica,Yaron, and Rogan have huge potential to become accomplished artists. YOUPSA helped them to receive regular lessons from the well-known artist Thomas Vermeulen. Art is as necessary as sunshine and as vital as nourishment and is therefore an important part of YOUPSA’s programmes.

Dawid loves everything about horses and hopes to become a jockey. To achieve this goal, YOUPSA supports him to receive riding instruction.

Every child loves water, but fear and lack of opportunity never allows them to become a swimmer. The organisation offers a weekly swimming programme for children to learn to swim and feel confident in water.

Maths is an essential part of every aspect of life. The programmes offer playful, hands-on and social Maths learning experiences to children.

The Afterschool Enrichment Programme is a warm and welcoming space where childrens’ curiosity and inspiration for reading books flourishes. A good book and friendship are an excellent combination. The children relish the freedom to choose from a selection of books, each one piquing their inquisitiveness and imagination.

Although the children live so close to the Meiringspoort Waterfall, 90% have never seen this natural wonder. YOUPSA takes groups of children to visit this amazing site and many other places.

The organisation’s regular educational outings help the rural children to explore the wider world. Living in very poor conditions, they hardly ever have the opportunity to leave their neighborhood. Examples of outings that are organised are to a beekeeper’s farm, game reserve, theatre show, cattle farm, classical music concert, arts and crafts market, beach time, etc.

What is YOUPSA?
‘Youth Potential South Africa – YOUPSA’ is a registered education Non-Profit and Public Benefit Organisation (charity) operating in De Rust. YOUPSA awakens the creativity, potential and purpose of children and youth. It is the only organisation working with the children in the area on a daily basis and is a vital part of the De Rust community.

YOUPSA’s weekly ‘Afterschool Enrichment and Literacy Programme’ includes team & leadership building, interactive Maths learning, literacy skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, arts, drama, communication and discussion skills, and a wide range of activities for a healthy body and mind. The programme sparks transformative experiences in children through building trusting relationships and nurturing social-emotional skills. It is the only place in the area where the children feel safe and can learn in a non-threatening environment. Here they feel respected, can be creative and express themselves freely. The programme enables young people to become confident, thinking, capable and kindhearted adults.

YOUPSA children naturally become more involved in their community and at home, growing into role models in the community. They are more positive towards themselves and others, interact better with others and make healthier choices. Being part of the YOUPSA programme gives the child a sense of belonging, vision and hope for the future.

A child will not be empowered or uplifted by receiving hand-outs. In fact, these things often bring about problems like theft, jealousy and violence. YOUPSA concentrates their energies on adding valuable experiences into the childrens’ lives and building trusting relationships with them. This supports their personal development and leaves a lasting positive impact.

YOUPSA is always looking for volunteers who would like to engage with the children. Please contact them on 076 1233832 if you have an idea or skill that you would like to share.

Contact details:
076 1233832 or 076 5874422

Top: Shaundray, Biano, Shaun, Conwill, Franklin (Photo Supplied)

Top: Mariska, Cherildene, Tersia (Photo supplied)

Top: Nicole, Shivano, Beoline, Shadine (Photo supplied)

Top: Young artist – Shivano (Photo supplied)

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