Moving Teenagers from Apathy to Active Participation

“Drug use, violence and poverty are things that some of the youth consider inevitable. Epic Youth Matters gives them the hope and drive to achieve what they never thought would be possible.”

Story time is a favourite at the Epic Youth Matters kids holiday club. Children are invited up on stage to retell the story that was taught on the specific day. For Zinhle this was the highlight of every day. She would pay special attention when the story was being told and shoot her hand up when children were asked if they would like to come up onto the stage to retell the story. When given the mic she would hold it tightly with both her hands as she would confidently retell the story, even explaining the meaning of the story. Today as a volunteer at the same holiday club that she attended, these have been lessons that she was taught early on in her life that she has not forgotten. The lessons taught to her when she was just 8 years old have impacted her life even today as she begins adulthood.

Epic Youth Matters is a non-profit organisation that focuses on educating and empowering the youth. We provide structured workshops and events to help vulnerable youth change their lives for the better. We visit schools and communities to help young people form a path that they thought was out of their reach. Through groups like YWOM (Young Women Of Majestic Beauty) and YMOH (Young Men Of Honour) we have attempted to mould the leaders of tomorrow. Zinhle has been a young women on our YWOMB programme and she has now come on board with the WVL programme. As she continues to mature she has proven to be a valuable member of the team.

Zinhle began her journey with Epic Youth Matters at a very young age. We, as an organisation, watched her grow and mature into the person she is today. She was exposed to harsh reality of poverty in South Africa as she was put into an environment where she interacted with children of different backgrounds. As a volunteer and a member of YWOMB her understanding of poverty and inequality deepened as she was able to now fully understand the difficulty faced by her peers and the young children she looked after. This was a factor she considered when choosing a career to pursue. She has decided to pursue law and use her opportunity to provide justice for marginalised communities, especially the youth. WVL-SA Fund allowed Epic Youth Matters to provide her with the same activities that taught her the lessons that guided her to a career path that will eventually empower her to continue the work started by this organisation.

Epic Youth Matters brings together young people of different races, genders, financial positions and family backgrounds. Our beneficiaries are therefore forced to learn empathy and consider the feelings of others in everything that they do. The behaviour that’s exhibited at holiday club, YWOMB or YMOH manifests itself into the way that they treat those close to them. They become more considerate and understanding because of their exposure to the harsh realities of others. Zinhle revealed that she has, since being a member of YWOMB, a new found respect for her parents. “They have gone above and beyond to give me the life that they never had. Apart from feeding, clothing and providing a shelter for me; they have loved and supported me. Many of the people I have met through Epic Youth Matters are unfamiliar to the treatment that I have received.” Zinhle therefore tries her best to repay her parents efforts by working to the best of her abilities academically.

The work Zinhle does at the holiday club and in our YWOMB programmes has inspired her to continue her community service at other organisations like the Garden Grove Old Age Home and Adult Literacy. She continues to have a positive impact of the lives of people beyond Epic Youth Matters. At the holiday club she is given the opportunity to educate underprivileged children and help them to grow their relationships with positive role models. Zinhle also continues to find ways to improve the effectiveness of the way she teaches at holiday club, she developed a way to teach children who speak different languages in one sitting; by drawing pictures. The longer she is a participant of Epic Youth Matters the more she learns.

This organisation is yet to change major laws or policies but they are able to change behaviour that is the norm is some communities. Drug abuse, violence and poverty are things that some of the youth consider inevitable. Epic Youth Matters gives them the hope and drive to achieve what they never thought would be possible and therefore not turn to addictive behaviour to fill a whole in their lives and forget the challenges they face. As we grow YWOMB and YMOH we aim to reach more youth in our schools and communities, Moving Them from Apathy to Active Participation.