“My vision is to persevere in breaking the cycle of crime in our community. I want to focus on the education of the youth, to teach and motivate them not to get involved in criminal activities and to stay away from drugs”.
These are the words of Eltano Jacobs, an inmate from Robertson Correctional Centre who is serving a sentence for dealing in drugs.
Eltano is one of three inmates, who are participating in a 240 km cycle tour on mountain bikes through the Breede River Valley area in the Western Cape.
He joined the President’s Award Programme in the Correctional Centre and said that since he joined the Programme, he has “learned a lot about self-confidence, effective communication, and how to work in a group. It also assisted me in realising that I have certain talents and how to correct the wrongs of the past, especially in the community.”
Eltano continued saying that he is “looking forward to prove to people in the community that within Correctional Services there are programmes like The President’s Award that motivate and assist you not to go back on your old path and not to get involved in drugs and criminal activities.”
Break the Cycle of Crime (BCC) Cycle Tour 2017
Under the auspices of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment (TPA), approximately 20 cyclists, including three inmates, four correctional service officials, three SAPS officials, Harcourts Grahamstown Business Owner and other current Gold Award youth participants and Award leaders, will participate in the Break the Cycle of Crime (BCC) cycle tour from the 4th to 7th April 2017.
The BCC journey will start at the Robertson Correctional Centre on Tuesday, 4 April at 09h00. On day one the group will cycle to the Vinkrivier valley and plan do a stop at Vinkrivier Primary (at about 12h30) to talk to children about the risks of crime.
That evening they will engage with youth from Robertson to share their own testimonies and discourage them from a life of crime. On day two, the route will take them from Robertson to McGregor and a stop at the Breede Centre is planned at approximately 12h30 where they will also deliver their crime prevention talk to children from the holiday club.
On day three, the group will cycle a different route from Robertson through McGregor with another stop at the Breede centre to talk/engage to a different group of youth that day. On day four they will visit Klaas Voogds primary to talk to children and youth between 09h30 and 10h00 on their way to Ashton. The group will cycle through Ashton before returning to finish at around 1 pm at the Robertson Correctional Centre where the, the CEO of TPA, Lara Kruiskamp, and other dignitaries will welcome the cyclists back.
Engaging with the community
En route the youth offender Award participants will stop at, schools and youth centres with the aim of talking to young people about the choices they made that landed them in prison. They will talk about the choices they are now making that will allow them to leave prison better prepared to lead purposeful, productive lives and become active, responsible citizens.
Elton Seconds, one of the three inmates from Robertson Correctional Centre, who is participating in the cycle tour said he is “looking forward to be a voice of the community.
I want to tell the youth of today that they can follow their dreams in life. The President’s Award Programme as well as other programmes has made a change in my life. That is why I want to contribute in making a change in the community and the youth.”
In addition to changing young lives through the education programme and raising awareness, the young offenders wish to raise support for the Award in order to enable 100 young people to be influenced by enrolling and participating in the President’s Award.
The third inmate from Robertson Correctional Centre who is part of the BCC tour, Jeremy van Niekerk, said that he wants to “lead a crime free and sober life and I want to focus on being a positive person, getting involved in counselling and a group support system to assist the youth with how to cope with everyday challenges”.
The impact of BCC
The BCC cycle tour is an extraordinary project, envisioned by Kobus Swart, a committed and dedicated President’s Award Leader at Robertson Correctional Centre.
Swart said, “I must admit that I am a MTB-cyclist myself and this adventurous journey is challenging but most of all, it is addictive. It all started as one of my objectives to expose these young offenders to this fastest growing challenging, adventurous and very expensive sport.’
“The TPA Award Programme has a different approach to rehabilitation. Young offenders are mostly in Correctional Centre’s due to challenges in the community; these challenges are mostly the wrong type of challenges. The challenges that they are faced with when enrolled as TPA participants are just the opposite type of challenge which leads them to make positive decisions and commitments in their lives.’
“Out of our 28 Gold Award youth offender participants since 2010, only three fell back into crime, which represents an 89% success rate. The National success rate of DCS in South Africa is more or less 9%, it is therefore highly recommended that all Correctional Centre’s who run TPA Programmes participate in the ‘Breaking the Cycle of Crime’ initiative.”
Background to The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment
The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment (TPA) is affiliated to The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People and is a full member of the International Award Foundation which oversees the Award Programme in over 140 countries globally, with 25 of these being in Africa, and a total of over one million active participants internationally.
TPA creates opportunities for young people to develop character, discover their purpose and determine their future to contribute towards building a great South Africa.
The Award Programme targets 14-24 year olds across the socio-economic spectrum, from public and private schools, children’s homes, correctional centres, tertiary institutions, etc. The Award provides a framework for non-formal education and has set guiding principles, with proven outcomes for young people who complete the Award.
Participants progress at their own pace through three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are four Sections to the Programme that must be done for a specified minimum period of time, for each level: Skills; Physical Recreation; Service and; an Adventurous Journey.
In addition, a Residential Project is required for the Gold level. With guidance from volunteer adult Award Leaders, each young person reflects upon their interests, abilities and ambitions as they set themselves challenges throughout the Sections.
On achieving an Award, participants would have developed many skills, behaviours and attitudes that equip them to succeed in life and work.