Boys build boards to buy minibus

Left: Shannon Plaatjies puts the finishing touches to the surfboard.

Over the past few months, young people have been working very closely to develop a unique fund-raising campaign for the 9Miles Project.

They are aiming to raise enough money to buy a minibus allowing the organisation to safely transport their 50 students from Strandfontein, who walk to their clubhouse and back. The minibus they are saving for would allow them to travel to their other branches in Elands Bay and St Francis Bay.

“The beauty of the project is that four 9Miles students, Faieq Samodien, 18, Shannon Plaatjies, 14, Marcheleno Anthony, 16, and Kenzil Hermanus, 14, will be instrumental in finally getting their much-needed vehicle,” said co-founder and chairperson of 9Miles, She’Neil Savel.

The students, all from Camp Road, Strandfontein, were selected to attend a week-long course in August to learn how to craft their own wooden surfboards under the skilled eye of Patrick Burnett, a Scarborough local who has mastered the art of wooden surfboards.

To say that they did a great job is an understatement – seasoned surfers and craftsmen are dumbfounded when they discover that the gleaming beauties were made by youth in one week, said Ms Savel.

The campaign was the brainchild of Grant Cleghorn, owner of Gone. Outdoor Supply Co, who partnered with Patrick in order to support 9Miles in a sustainable way. Bryan Little of Fly on the Wall Productions captured the experience on film and the short movie will be screened at the Wavescape Film Festival in December. This collaboration not only equipped the students with a unique skill, but will ultimately result in the organisation generating much-needed funding for their minibus.

“Walking to the project clubhouse is tough for our kids, especially in bad weather and with the fear of violence or child abductions. They make the journey because the clubhouse is a safe and positive environment but we are so grateful that, thanks to all involved, our dream of safe transport for our kids will soon become a reality,” said founder, Nigel Savel.

From now until December, the boards will be auctioned, sold and raffled in a mammoth effort to raise money for the van. One of the boards will be auctioned at the Wavescape ArtBoard Auction on Wednesday November 28, one will be on silent auction at the Gone. store in Longmarket Street, in the city centre, one is up for sale to an individual or corporate, a minimal crafted by Shannon, is currently up for grabs via raffle. Entry for the raffle draw is R50 to win a board worth R12 000 and more details regarding how to enter can be found on the 9Miles website or social media.

“I think with this strategy we should surely be able to raise the funds needed for the vehicle, and having crafted the boards and also assisting with raffle ticket sales will really give the kids such a strong sense of ownership and contribution to the raising of funds for their vehicle. A child empowered, is a child uplifted,” said Ms Savel.

The 9Miles youth development programme celebrated its fifth birthday in May this year and has expanded to three coastal communities across the country since its inception in 2013, growing from seven to 85 children in Strandfontein, Elands Bay and St Francis Bay.

With this campaign the organisation will soon truly be living their slogan of “going the distance”.

For more details about the 9Miles Project, go to