The futures you gave in 2019. Let's do it again in 2020!
Our 2019 Big Give challenge was our most ambitious ever and thanks to the generosity of all of our donors and supporters in both the UK and South Africa, we raised a whopping total of just over R1million to expand our reach to youth in our Sygnature Skills and Resilience Futures programmes. Our target was to reach at least 100 young people. Despite everything that happened in 2020, we reached more than 200 in deep, sustained learning engagement.
As with so many others across the world, our work at Routes to Resilience has been significantly disrupted by the pandemic, especially because so much of what we do is based on physical experiences and face-to-face contact and learning. We have had to pause a number of our programmes, sadly the majority of which support youth in under-resourced communities who perhaps need the continuity the most, but who, by virtue of circumstance and access, are unable to engage with internet-based platforms like Zoom or even WhatsApp.
We are pleased with the adaptation of learning to the virtual environment and reminded to ‘practice what we preach’: being agile, drawing on our inner resilience when challenges seem insurmountable, and finding new and creative ways to share our message and engage with our participants. The pandemic has changed mindsets dramatically, so that online talks and sessions have become experiential and connecting. We have used various combinations of Zoom lessons and global “Conversations” with global practitioners that our young people have joined in and experienced the connectedness of this challenge globally (data and airtime were provided to learners in order to enable participation). We have used blog posts, Instagram Stories, Zoom, YouTube and WhatsApp ‘family groups’ and videos all to support our students. Most importantly for many was having the forum to understand more about what Covid is and how to safeguard self and others; this was meaningful for us and for them.
We have navigated the change by holding true to our core purpose: igniting potential that unlocks the power of youth to design and live a resilient future. It’s been incredible to see the journeys our students have taken and the shifts they have made during the pandemic, thanks to some intense one-on-one sessions, creativity and tenacity on our part, but also thanks to their own dedication and – yes – resilience. We are also delighted that we have been able to access so many thoughtful, passionate, committed and leading practitioners, policymakers and creative voices from all around the world who have given time, engagement and learning opportunities. They have not only informed, but inspired and ignited something in our students, they have given them access and insight into the wider world. This is something that might not have been possible before Covid-19 and we’re excited to take it further into our future work – the opportunities are endless.
During the year a total of 208 students participated in our Sygnature Skills (130 students) and Resilient Futures (78 students) programme. Before and after lockdown we were lucky enough to hold three immersive learning journeys for 90 students and we are waiting patiently for December when 53 of our Go for Gold students are having the experience of a lifetime – a three-day residential immersion programme at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. We are sure that this will make 2020 an even more memorable year and provide a fitting start to their new lives after school!