Bokamoso Life Centre Program Summary
The Bokamoso Life Centre provides youth in Winterveldt and the surrounding communities with social-emotional support, essential training in life skills, and opportunities for educational and career development. The Centre provides a hot nutritious mid-day meal, often the main meal for many of the youth.
Youth Development Program
The Youth Development Program (formerly known as ADP) is the hallmark program at the Centre. It is a ten-month program that focuses on social-emotional development, life skills training, leadership skills, physical health including HIV awareness, and sexual health, career guidance, art and music. Youth are recruited from Winterveldt and the surrounding area through schools, churches, community centers and word of mouth. The program runs Monday through Friday, 8:30 am-3:00 pm, from late February through early December each year and serves approximately 35-45 youth.
The staff of trained facilitators and social workers provide the youth enrolled at the Centre an opportunity to explore their personal experiences in a safe and supportive environment. Through facilitated discussions and activities, youth develop a deeper self-awareness, explore personal, family and community values, create new bonds, gain more confidence, and rediscover a sense of hope and self-belief.
Youth Development Modules
- Drama and Music: The drama director and staff create opportunities for the youth to explore their emotions and experiences and develop their talents in music and theater. The youth learn traditional dances and songs and have the opportunity to write and perform plays involving their personal experiences and issues in their community. Youth who are interested in developing their talents can participate in the Drama Group, which meets before and after the formal Youth Development sessions to practice specific songs, dances, poetry and plays. The Drama Group frequently performs at venues in Winterveldt and in surrounding communities. Members are eligible to audition to participate in the annual Cultural Exchange and Performing Arts Program trip to the United States.
- Art Therapy: A Centre staff member, who has received art therapy certification in South Africa, uses mixed media art to help the youth explore their emotions and personal experiences. The youth have made murals, masks and other objects that are displayed at the Centre. These projects provide a gateway for discussion around personal, family and community experiences.
- Sport and Health: The youth participate in a variety of sports including soccer (football), volleyball, netball and traditional games and sports. They receive information about HIV and AIDS, physical and sexual health, and have an opportunity to discuss these issues in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
- Group and Individual Discussion: The staff guide the youth through a variety of topics that provide an opportunity to discuss personal and community issues such as domestic violence, rape, alcohol use and abuse, spirituality, family structure and other issues that arise.
- Career Development: This module is designed to help youth think about future career opportunities and to provide them with some basic skills to help them achieve their dreams. They are encouraged to investigate the requirements for entering into a particular career and to match their personalities and academic achievements with those requirements. The youth research post-secondary possibilities within their field of interest and to decide what kind of academic or vocational training would best advance their careers. The youth are introduced to the Centre Scholarship application process and instructed on how to complete it.
- Basic Computer Skills: The Bokamoso computer lab, opened in 2012, provides youth, staff and community users access to a computer and the Internet, and levels the playing field between the few haves and the many have-nots in the cyber world of technology. The computer lab provides basic computer skills like keyboarding, creating and saving documents, navigation and menus, and access to the Internet. It is a valuable tool for the Centre for both staff and students. In addition, it augments the Scholarship Program by giving students greater access to information and resources, better preparing students for post-secondary education, and providing better tools for entering the job market.
- Counseling and Social Services: A social worker serves on the Centre staff and provides counseling, home visits, behavioral support and crisis intervention to the youth. The social worker assists in recruitment for the Youth Development Program, facilitates some sessions, and provides backup to the Scholarship Program with school placements and career development advice. The social worker supports other Centre staff in working with particularly troubled youth, and helps students and their families navigate government programs to maximize use of available resources.