‘Our say, our way’

Involved alumni:

The challenge that the project addresses

In youth development programmes youth are often positioned as passive beneficiaries of services designed for them, not with them, frequently by others at significant social and geographic distance. Yet, with support and allyship, young people can tell their own stories, define what matters, and take action to realise change they want to see. As coordinator of the participatory research and community action internship programme at the Pivot Collective NPC, I aim to develop and support the next generation of researchers, activists and changemakers to make an active contribution to society through creative, participatory methodologies that redefine social development and justice.

What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?

The aim of the programme is to support young people to explore and share their diverse lived experiences using creative and innovative approaches, and to design projects that shift people’s ways of thinking about the experiences and needs of young people living in historically disadvantaged communities in South Africa. To do this we currently employ four youth interns on a learning residency in our non-profit organisation to carry out their own changemaking initiatives. The four projects are focused on: (1) urban farming, food security, and community-building for township youth; (2) indigenous identities and youth voice; (3) healing through arts for LGBTQIA+ communities in Cape Town; and (4) music and arts as mediums for the development of self-esteem and emotional intelligence in youth in the Eastern Cape.

In addition to leading their own projects, the interns contribute their ideas, talents, and skills across a variety of collective research projects and participatory, arts-based programmes. With additional funding, we are hoping to develop an additional collaborative project that brings together key innovations from each of the youth-led projects to consolidate and share learning and skills with the next cohort of youth interns in residency and to broader communities of young activists and changemakers.

Describe the project's impact

This project is undergirded by approaches emerging from decolonial theory and participatory methodologies. Ultimately, the aim is for participants to witness and co-create youth-led processes where youth representation and voice is at the core of all projects. The project will allow for the collective voices of passionate and committed young people to co-lead meaningful and impactful activities using art, the natural environment, and the skills and talents of young people to promote healing, wholeness and development. This will have a significant effect on young people across both the Eastern and Western Cape, South Africa who we hope will use this experience as the catalyst to launch their own projects, where their voices remain at the forefront of the design and implementation. Passing on knowledge and skills to the next generation does not have to be led by more senior practitioners. Instead, there is significant value that can be attained when young people collectively engage, share, challenge and critique the problems that they face together. If they are given the space and support, they can craft their own stories, find their own voices, and use their creative energy to pursue the development of a more just society.

Watch this video about the Pivot Collective