A group of professionals are sharing their skills with pupils to teach them life skills and a trade.
Street SMART (Supporting Mentorship through Art) was launched at Northwood Primary School, in Woodlands on Tuesday May 7.
The interactive two-hour long assembly included a self-defence display, a talk on agriculture, and sessions with entertainer Alfonso “Joker” September and graffiti artist Rizah Potgieter, also known as Prefix 66, about the importance of expressing oneself through art.
Chairperson of the board, Zeenat Isaacs, said they would like to roll out the programme to particularly no-fee schools and disadvantaged pupils, who had little or no support from their parents and families.
“We want to reach out to everyone, including parents, who don’t share their children’s interests to create a platform, where they can see their children perform or thrive,” she said.
Ms Isaacs said they had about 45 professionals who would come to schools during their spare time.
They are looking to teach pupils skills, which can help them be employed or entrepreneurs.
“The core role of SMART is to target impoverished communities over a broad spectrum by targeting youth, empowering and impacting their lives by keeping them away from unsavoury situations on the streets and teaching them skills, which will help them be self-sustainable, hence eradicating poverty,” she said.
Their skills set include dance, graffiti, all art forms, rap, mechanics and poetry.
Ms Isaacs said secondary objectives include raising awareness about sexual health, HIV, contraception, tuberculosis, basic first aid, confidence building, job readiness, self-development and agricultural workshops. “These objectives will lead to the positive impact greatly needed through empowerment by uplifting all impoverished communities in need,” she said.
Joker told the Plainsman he lived a tough life on the streets, hand to mouth and was a gangster.
“I did not have these kinds of opportunities. I did not have a father. This is my family, where I feel comfortable and we are working together to build a better South Africa,” he said.
Joker said after having been in jail and being mentored by a police officer and community worker he was introduced to finding ways to better express himself, in rap, dance or music.
Joker’s manager Lesley Johnson, co-founder of SA Entertainment, said they would be working alongside with SMART.
“To make our community a lovable and liveable place, as our youth and young kids get lost in gangsterism and drugs,” he said.
He said they were a diverse record label with artists from various communities, including Mitchell’s Plain, Langa, Gugulethu, Delft and Blikkiesdorp, who form part of the Ghetto Tour – wherein artists go into gang-ridden areas and showcase their talents.
“We are working hard to change the mindset of our kids,” he said.
“I always say if you could change the mindset of one that’s a huge milestone for me,” he said.
EdwinaLiedeman,deputy principal of Northwood Primary School, said it is important for pupils to have access to such programmes.
“I was impressed by their presentation and interaction with the pupils,” she said.
Ms Liedeman had referred pupils with behavioural and learning challenges to SMART, to help nurture them.
“We are here to make a difference, let us be the difference, and welcome anyone to impact the children and make a difference,” she said.