The youth of South Africa need to be provided with opportunities to become active citizens in their communities, trained in volunteerism and supported by civil society, Government and business, in order to drive positive change in the country.
ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a national non-profit organisation in South Africa with the primary objective of equipping the youth to become active citizens, in order to influence and provoke positive change in their communities.
ACTIVATE! has trained and empowered over 3,000 young South Africans in previously-disadvantaged communities, since it was launched seven years ago, creating a network of change agents that have a daily impact in their communities.
ACTIVATE! YouCount research recently conducted demonstrates the efficacy of the NGOs interventions in South Africa through its network of over 2,500 young people.
Its youthful change drivers have in total contributed a staggering R31 million worth of free volunteer hours to the South African economy to create social change.
ACTIVATE! is raising the discourse around important youth issues in the lead up to South Africa’s National Elections, 8 May 2019. Issues they want politicians and civil society to address are low voter apathy among the youth; unemployment; basic skills training; and active citizenship.
“The youth are not voting because they feel they their vote has no impact,” explains social scientist, Dr Cephas Mutami, who produced the YouCount research survey for ACTIVATE!, ‘Driving Change in South Africa: A Youth Network Approach to Development’.
This is at the heart of ACTIVATE! philosophy: “If young people are provided with a provocative platform to meet, connect and be inspired to actively contribute to the common good, strengthen, develop their abilities and skills set, then they can be innovative and active citizens who can drive positive social, economic and political change for South Africa and the global good.”
The report further expands on the interventions being driven by the NGO’s change driver programmes targeted at the youth across diverse communities in South Africa, both urban and rural. The research found a significant difference in the attitudes and active citizenship between youth inside the ACTIVATE! network and those outside of the network, which it attributes to the impact of its programmes.
ACTIVATE! programmes are grounded in the following five pillars:
- EQUIP: Activators are equipped with personal development and growth, to support them in driving drive public innovation.
- CONNECT: Activators are connected to each other, to resources, to thought leaders, and to socio-economic opportunities through the creation of shared spaces for meaningful engagement and collaboration.
- INSPIRE: Activators are inspired by, and in turn inspire, the South African public through stories of impact, innovation and socio-economic opportunities.
- PROVOKE: Activators provoke public debate with new ideas, approaches, dialogues and opportunities.
- INFLUENCE: Activators influence South African society at a personal, interpersonal, local and national level.
ACTIVATE! CEO, Chris Meintjes, says the YouCount research shows unequivocally that the youth in their network do not show the apathy towards voting in the upcoming elections, for example, as youth in the rest of South Africa.
The report found that the level of political consciousness among activators is high and their level of involvement in socio-economic activities in South Africa is extensive. Meintjes attributes this to having hope for the future: “Many young people do not have access to resources and no avenues for development. This is dangerous because if you don’t have hope for tomorrow, you are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.
If you do have hope for a better future, you change your mindset, attitude and behaviour.
It changes the playing field completely. “Through ACTIVATE! programmes, we have created an experiential learning journey to enable a young person to discover their own learning potential so that they can generate a better tomorrow for themselves and their country as a whole,” says Meintjes.