Background & objective
From a dream, 12 years ago, of providing a safe space for children to play on bikes, it has evolved into an academic and sports programme focused on creating a long-term impact for the community.
Children growing up in the Kayamandi community do so surrounded by unemployment, crime, and alcohol/drug addiction. Their universe of imagined opportunities is severely curtailed by this reality. On a practical level, the education and life guidance they receive in the formal system don’t equip them to break this cycle. Many children have entered our programme aged 12, and yet unable to read.
Our key objective is that every child graduating from the songo.info programme goes on to be a confident, well-rounded individual who is gainfully employed and a contributing member of the community. Nearly 800 children have been through our programme, and we currently have 50 children from ages 6 to 24 years within the songo.info family.
Education is our core focus. We use our BMX academy as a fun and motivating vehicle to retain the children within songo.info. The children are enrolled at a primary school level, and through our programme we provide educational support into high school and onto tertiary level studies. The number of girls in the programme is growing, with the aim of reaching 50%.
Sport not only has transformative power, but also teaches important life skills. It contributes to health and wellbeing, as well as providing an alternative to the destructive influences that children encounter.
Children that show above average athletic potential are assisted on a route to high- performance participation in cycling, through our partnerships with Cape Epic, Wines2Whales and other race organisers. Several of our graduates have represented South Africa.
Songo.info is an intensive programme, in that we choose to focus all our attention on a manageable group of children, rather than small bits of attention for a large group. We are not doing things on a superficial level.
It is a reality of the social issues faced by these children that many of them require targeted interventions, which puts exceptional demands on the staff running the programme. Skilled staff, who can not only do this work, but also provide the kind of academic support necessary, are unlikely to be unpaid volunteers, and this has major implications for the cost of running our programme.
In addition, the cycling activities that perform the function of ‘glue’ that holds the programme together, makes use of specialised equipment that requires ongoing maintenance. Transporting the children to cycling events involves considerable expense.
Every child attends the programme at the songo.info clubhouse after school every weekday afternoon. Between 3:00 and 5:00pm, they are given a nutritious sandwich, fruit and juice, take part in various educational activities, as well as participating in cycling (combination of skills and fitness training).