By CityLife Arts Writer
The reigning Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida, believes that mental health has to be spoken about openly.
She articulated her view that the stigma attached to mental illness issues has to end in an address to learners at BoitekongSecondary Schooland Meriti Secondary School in Rustenburg, Northwest, yesterday. (JUNE 24, 2021)
Shudu was a guest of the Adopt-a-School Foundation, an entity of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation. In partnership with JSE-listed mining company Merafe Resources, Adopt-a-School Foundation hosted a Health, Sanitation and Sexuality Awareness Campaignat Boitekong Secondary School and Meriti Secondary School in the North West Province.
This campaign is part of a broader Social Welfare project funded by Merafe Resources. The campaign aims to educate learners about puberty and their transition into adulthood, helping them to make informed choices. Sexuality Education offers learners useful information on sexuality, puberty, menstruation, male reproductive health, relationships, contraception, teenage pregnancy and STIs, including HIV/AIDS.
Shudu said she was delighted to be able to talk to the young adults about mental health. “I have been told that this school was established in 2006 by the Boitekong community and Government. Before that, learners had to walk 15 kilometres to a neighbouring school,” Shudu said.
”Inmany developing neighbourhoods, there are socioeconomic challenges– challenges that often lead to mental health issues. These mental health issues are often ignored, rather than dealt with. Mental health and mental illness are such taboo subjects, I have dedicated my reign as Miss South Africa to shining a spotlight on these issues.”Shudu continued.Shudu shared these views with the young learners, adding that learners need to ask for help if they find themselves struggling; there is no shame in admitting that they are feeling anxious or fearful or afraid of having out of control thoughts.
Zanele Matlala, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merafe Resources said “Since our first investmentin these schools and in Adopt-a-School Foundation, we have seen school leaders, educator and learners grow and thrive. We have witnessed the improvement in school morale and leadership, sustainable infrastructure and the increase in matric results year-on-year. Seeing the sustainability of interventions by the school has also been priceless to witness.We have funded this three-year Social Welfare programme to provide necessary support to the schools in addressing the significant challenges these school communities face. ”
According to Steven Lebere, the CEO of Adopt-a-School Foundation, the Foundation is thrilled to have Miss South Africa on board for this campaign and appreciates the long-standing relationship the Foundation has with Miss South Africa. Over the years, Miss South Africa has been involved in different initiatives of the Foundation. Further, “We applaud Merafe Resources and appreciate the long-term investment they have made to both schools. Their commitment and dedication to education has been vital to these schools, and we are pleased to see positive change in these schools and learners.” Steven continued.
Adopt-a-School Foundation, Project Manager, Peter Mahani said: “The school is situated in a community characterised by poverty, violence, crime, alcohol and substance abuse, family disorganisation and despair.
These issues affect the normal functioning of learners, which leads to fighting at school, teenage pregnancies, and a high school dropout rate. Having been part of this project since inception, we have seen learners grow and taking the lead to ensure the project is sustained.”
Merafe Resources, in partnership with the Adopt-a-School Foundation, adopted Boitekong Secondary School and Meriti Secondary School in 2012. Since 2012, the schools have benefitted from the Foundation’s Whole School Development model, receiving significant development in Leadership, Infrastructure Development, Curriculum Deliveryand Social Welfare. The Health, Sanitation and Sexuality Education Project started in February 2019, and was extended to enable the Social Welfare Projects Managers to evaluate the impact of the workshops and facilitate dialogues. The project is currently in phase three, where peer education training is conducted for selected learners who benefitted from the workshops facilitated in 2019. These learners will be peer educators who will ensure the Health, Sanitation and Sexuality Education continues at both schools, ensuring the sustainability of the projects as Adopt-a-School Foundation will be exiting the schools.
Both School Principals from the schools shared sentiments of gratitude to Merafe Resources, Adopt-a-School Foundation, and Shudu for this great intervention. Learners expressed excitement to see Miss South Africa in person and feel empowered to tackle head-on health, sanitation, and sexuality challenges.
Since its inception, over 19,400 learners have benefitted from Health and Sanitation programmes.
Over 9,400 learners participated in awareness campaigns.
The programme has reached 17,670 learners.
The programme has hosted over 390 parental workshops.
About Adopt-a-School Foundation
Adopt-a-School Foundation (AAS) is an entity of the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF) and was officially established in 2002 by a group of concerned individuals, including Cyril Ramaphosa and Dr James Motlatsi. The Foundation is registered as a Section 21 company with PBO status and has an Independent Board of Directors.
The 2020 Top Empowerment Award Winner, Adopt-a-School Foundation, works with a wide range of stakeholders including; District, Provincial and National Departments of Basic Education, corporate donors, various service providers and best practice NGOs. The Foundation implements Whole School Development – a holistic model aimed at improving the academic, infrastructural, social and security environment in schools.
There are currently 622 schools under the Adopt-a-School Foundation’s adoption programme. The Foundation works in all nine provinces in South Africa, and in Lesotho and Mozambique.