Written by: Paul Miles
Article source: JOY! Magazine

Teenagers living in disadvantaged areas are at risk of achieving poor results at school. Subsequently, school dropout rates in South Africa are high, resulting in young people seldom achieving their future dreams. After school programmes, which support learners both academically and personally, have been shown to improve the chances of high school learners finishing their Matric. There was no academic support programme for teens living in Westlake. Hence, in 2019 after sensing God’s call to this mission area, we decided to launch the Future Sparks After School Programmme to start in 2020.

A hope-offering programme
Future Sparks is a programme is for school-going teenagers who live in Westlake (an economically disadvantaged community in Cape Town). These young people mostly attend under-resourced and over-crowded high schools, located far from their homes. Teens are supported academically and personally, through relationships with volunteer tutors and mentors. This creates a safe, enabling space to pursue their dreams. Extra opportunities for personal growth and enrichment are provided through exposure to new places and experiences, by taking the learners on day trips to Cape Point Nature Reserve, Cape Town Science Centre, Waterfront Aquarium, S.A. Naval Museum amongst others.

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Dedicated tutoring
The programme runs from Westlake Primary School (for Grade 7 learners), and Reddam Constantia (for Grade 8 and 9 learners). Here they enjoy maths games to gain mastery over complex concepts in a fun way, as well as working on tablets doing online maths practice. English reading and writing are also part of our programme, and we have just recently launched an Afrikaans programmme. An introduction to coding using a locally developed game on our tablet-based learning system called TANKS proved to be a hit with these youngsters. Learners work in small groups with tutors on hand to assist.

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Students are well looked after
All learners receive a healthy meal at Future Sparks sessions. We have created a mobile library and students take books home to read. We connect with the learner’s families, through instant messaging, and home visits by out trained child and youth care worker on the team.

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Tutors who want to make a difference
We have a group of 14 tutors (many from the local community where the learners live) who invest their energy every week tutoring and mentoring small groups of learners. Our tutors receive a stipend to cover data and transport costs associated with the programme. Tutor training and team building events are part of our programme and we see tutors as beneficiaries in our programme as we seek to empower them personally to pursue their own plans and studies. We have a team of four programme managers, two of whom are experienced teachers and two who have community outreach and development experience. We enhance the capacity of our tutors through training sessions to upskill tutors, build alignment with vision, and increase team connections and impact of the programme.

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Please support us
Donations of funds allows us to provide meals for leaners, learning materials and equipment, day trips, stationery packs at the start of each year, online learning resources, entry level smartphones for learners who are without (so they can access free online learning material at home), sport coaching, and equipment. Funding also helps us to pay tutors a stipend to cover transport and data costs and to engage with service providers who assist with financial reporting and other supporting roles (Future Sparks is a registered NPO and PBO).

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In summary, funding will provide essential resources for today, as well as future stability and the opportunity to scale the programme to meet the need for academic and personal support for teens in the Westlake community. Many lives will be impacted! We have seen God’s hand of favour and provision as we have pursued this call and are excited to be on this amazing journey with Him.

Please support our cause:
The Ubomi Charitable Trust | Standard Bank of SA Ltd
Account Number: 270933735 |Branch Number: 020909
Reference: JOY Future Sparks

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Date published: 04/08/2022
Feature image: www.facebook.com

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