Ten years of uplifting youth at risk

JAGRunners take to the streets of Kayamandi near Stellenbosch.

A Woodstock non-profit is using sport to help young people in troubled Cape Flats communities.

The JAG Foundation has been around for 10 years, running its programmes in Mitchell’s Plain, Bonteheuwel, Langa, Manenberg, Lavender Hill, Vrygrond, Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Belhar, Firgrove, Macassar, Lwandle and Blue Downs.

JAG stands for “Jointly Achieving Growth”, and its general manager, Barry Clarke, says it gives kids in tough neighbourhoods alternatives to negative influences.

“Our role in the communities where we work is to provide opportunities, and alternative lifestyles for the children, using our sports programmes.”

JAG runs rugby, running, cycling and netball programmes. It also has a programme called Bullyproof that uses ball games to promote an anti-bullying message.

JAG mentors, chosen because of their innate knowledge and understanding of the communities they work in, are trained by the organisation to run the programmes.

Chezlin Wilson is a JAGRugby coach at seven schools the foundation works with, and he says building relationships with a school and its staff is key to making a programme work.

“I’ve built an excellent relationship with all the schools and teachers who assisted us over the years to make this programme a success. School principals and teachers understand the need for sports to be part of a pupil’s schooling, especially when the area we live in isn’t always safe.”

Ismail Meyer, the principal of Bonteheuwel’s Klipfontein Primary, says the JAGRugby and JAGBullyproof programmes have done a lot to boost his pupils’ morale, helping teachers focus on teaching.

“Through sport they do wonders, the same children that may fight one another in the street are the same children who are playing with each other.

“A rugby ball or soccer ball will assist in bringing two groups together who will not normally interact with each other.”

To find out more about the work JAG does and how you can help it, visit www.jagfoundation.co.za, call 021 761 2758 or email info@jagfoundation.org.za