In South Africa, the majority of children and youth are growing up in communities where poverty, crime and various social ills prevails. This result in children and youth being exposed to many risks, including family conflict, community violence, educational stressors, and high risk behavior that pose a threat to their well-being and development. With little hope, future vision or dreams, this age group are at risk of becoming school dropouts feeding in to the already alarming statistics and cycles of crime and social ills.
Recent studies commenced amongst South African youth (Grade 8, 9, 10 and 11) showed a significant increase in sexual behaviour, with 41% of learners who participated in the study having had sex. The latest research amongst South African youth showed that the high levels of teenage pregnancy experienced in the first quarter of 2013 are mainly due to boredom among teenagers, with the lack of extra mural activities (such as sport; art ; music; etc.) been noted as the main area of concern.
There is a sharp drop-out rate at Grade 10 level, the stage at which high school children make their final subject choices. Creative young people often do not choose maths or science as subjects, often because they are not interested in them and are failing. There is a stigma that finishing school without maths or science is a waste of time as you won’t be able to go out and get a “real” job. Parents often pressure children to go out and work to bring money home, rather than stay in school. KickstART actively searches for creative youth in Stellenbosch high schools who are vulnerable to leaving school. We introduce them to a range of job opportunities or career prospects within the creative industries by holding interactive workshops facilitated by leaders in these fields. All aspects of creative employment options are showcased and previous workshops have included land art, photography, mosaic, sketching, public art, architecture and ceramics, along with basic business skills.
Art is being dropped as a subject at many schools due to lack of resources and qualified teachers. This increases the risk that learners will have no exposure to any kind of creativity at school and also takes away a very important form of occupational therapy for troubled learners. Our goal in 2015 is to create at least one mobile art classroom which will travel through the communities of Stellenbosch. Art classes can be held during free class time or over weekends.
Taking the multiple challenges and barriers young people are facing into consideration, we at KickstART aim to address this severe loss of human potential by identifying talented creative youth, offering them hope through art and design.