Classe de Chica: Empowering Girls with Routes to Resilience

Girls in Langa township are set to benefit from the social action initiative of a teenager from Christel House School in Phillippi.

Zanele, a resident of Langa, recently participated in a five-day youth Routes to Resilience residential immersion programme a programme of the Cape Town based NGO the Impact Trust. Now in its third year, the programme is designed to develop (eco)systems intelligence and provide education in sustainability leadership and practice for both youth and educators.

This July’s Routes to Resilience programme was hosted by the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and the Grootbos Foundation and was delivered by the Impact Trust in collaboration with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership in South Africa. It engaged twenty-four Grade 10 and 11 students from eight schools of the Overberg, Winelands and Greater Cape Town.

The programme seeks to build sustainability intelligence by providing a deep understanding of complexity, systems and system-thinking. In addition, participants engage with their personal purpose in learning and identify meaningful issues that they can address in a planned and executed social action project which is supported by Routes to Resilience Faculty mentors. The project seeks to address those Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that each learner (or group of learners) feel passionate about. Students earn their Certificate in Sustainability Leadership Action on completion.

It is perhaps appropriate that this women’s month Zanele has started her social action project, Classe de Chica, to support and inspire the confidence, health and well-being of girls in her community. Engaging the community through use of an “anonymous” question and requests box open for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18, Zanele is able to identify the most pressing issues that girls are facing. To help them negotiate the meaningful challenges they are as teenagers within their community and the current social context she arranges speakers, workshops sessions and other activities to help

“I chose this project because I feel it will have a positive impact on the young girls in my community. I feel like I will be making a change not only in my community but in the lives of the girls that take part in the organisation. I also chose this project because there are no other organisations like this in my community. …. I want to address the problem of gender inequality within the community. I also want to help decrease the rate of depression and anxiety amongst girls who cannot get help for themselves because of various reasons. I also want to help girls let go of the mentality of hopelessness in their lives because they believe they don’t have a future because of their backgrounds. I want them to have a positive outlook on life”, Zanele highlighted.

Nasar Harris, deputy principal of Christel House School from which Zanele hails said:

“I think this is a great initiative. It is something that is needed by our country and our youth. I think this is what the future holds and what the country needs – working together with other children and with communities.”

Classe de Chica is not the only social action project that has emerged from the Routes to Resilience @ Grootbos programme. More than eight social action initiatives have been started by participants across the Overberg, Winelands and Cape Metropole. These include the innovative project “Trash is Art Wasted”, the #YOUnity diversity wall, AA Power, El Natural and The Marvellous Three.