Our Theory of Change, Constraints, and more…
What is the specific problem we are addressing?
Unsafe Environments | Deep-Rooted Fear | Corrupt Thinking | No Sense of Belonging
Safety is a luxury not often found in these communities, because of the added frequency and penetration of abuse, gangsterism, drugs, crime, into all aspects of daily life. Safety can never be guaranteed… not on the streets, not at school, not even at home. Potential danger is quite literally present on every corner. Pair this with the traumatizing occurrences of abusive situations, including verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, the witnessing of criminal acts such as murder and rape, peer pressure at school, uncertainty about the future, and a lack of places or people to turn to. Scary and lonely. In these fatherless communities, broken and unstable home environments are more common than not. These are largely caused by unemployment, gangsterism, drug abuse, alcoholism, and acts of criminality. It is not rocket science to conclude that’s such environments are hugely detrimental to the development of a child. Children living in unsafe, high-risk, violent environments no longer have the ability to think and act rationally, due the brain being permanently in survival mode.
The side effects being massive hormone imbalances which kills the ability to learn, destroys and hinders growth of new nerve cells necessary for the development of a child. Being continuously exposed to these social ills and corrupt thinking from a young age, crafts a perception of this life being a normal and natural life path. This perception leads children to become involved in gangs at a young age, promotes drug use and drug dealing, leads to participation in criminal activity, and ultimately paves a path to prison or an early grave. Living in communities plagued with social stresses, children have a hard time to satisfy the need of feeling a sense of belonging to a warm family. Often children find a substitution filling this void by joining a gang. Being part of a gang gives these children a misconstrued sense of purpose and identity that satisfies their need of belonging and authority in their lives. The gang leader becomes a surrogate father, instilling negative life values that lead to violent behaviour together with drugs and alcohol abuse.
Theory of Change
Safe and Trusted Environments | Sport and Play | Effective Learning
Where learning, for these children, has come to a standstill in their brains due to constantly being in ‘survival mode’, it is important that the body, which dramatically influences the brain starts to fight back. To be able to fully develop as a child, a safe and trusted environment is needed in which the child feels free to discover and explore anything in a rich sensory world. Hear, see, smell, feel, taste. These senses need to be stimulated, because these are the ones that transport the sensory information to the brain that converts it into thoughts, creativity, and knowledge. The world needs to be lived and experienced in order to effectively learn. Moving, running, playing, passing, jumping, laughing… all contribute to creating an environment conducive to wiring a healthy mind for these children to learn and absorb the benefit of a positive alternate life path. Sport and play have many values which ingrain in young minds merely by playing and being part of positive ‘family’, such as tolerance, integrity, respect, discipline, teamwork, accountability, and goal setting, just to name a few.
These learned values then in turn build self-esteem, hope, and belief. Every movement while playing and being involved in a sport, stimulates the vestibular system in the brain which produces new learning. Also, the counterpart of adrenaline and cortisol is being produced with physical activity; dopamine. This hormone helps to breakdown stress hormones and stimulates the growth of existing nerve cells and increases the number of new cells. It facilitates learning and memory. The hormone revives the child and makes them motivated and curious. The spark of liveliness gives back the joy in life. The more often the child enjoys themselves in sport and play, the more skilled the child becomes which requires less brain energy to effectively function.
What are the Difficulties in solving this problem?
Lack of Safe Spaces | Freedom of Movement | Trained Human Assets
The term ‘safe spaces’ is broad and encapsulates different factors dependent on the particular community. However, we universally use the following checks to define a safe space as being; a space where we can control access (fenced areas are preferable, utilising a single entrance), a space which is ‘known’ by our facilitators, a space free from thoroughfare or high traffic perimeters (generally markers associated with gang flairs and drug dealing), a space which is conducive to conducting a safe physical activity (free from easy-to-miss holes, rocks, glass…), and a space within 5km of the furthest school (as this effects transport timing, and minimises gang territory crossing.) A safe space is only useful if it is safely accessible by the children on our programme, and in most cases, as walking is the only accessible mode of transport, they are not due to the permanent threat of gang violence and abduction while on the streets. This limited freedom of movement deems many spaces unusable unless transport is supplied.
Working in communities with high unemployment rates, it is not difficult to find people eager to get involved in our programmes, however finding the right people eager to learn themselves is trickier. Once we have connected with great prospects, there is an education and skills gap in terms of Sports Union Accredited training, skills in dealing with children, as well as basic administration skills.
How do we address these Difficulties?
Value-based Sport and Play Programmes | Train Facilitators and Mentors | Create Safe Spaces | Supply Safe Transport
Create Sporting Leagues | Inclusion and Nation Building | Talent Identification and Enfranchisement
Our value-based sport and play programmes utilise Rugby, Running, Cycling, and basic ball games as the educational drivers to impart Life Skills and to expose the children to an alternative life path. These programmes take form under the brands JAGRugby (Rugby), JAGRunners (Running), JAGRiders (Cycling), JAGNetball (Netball) and JAGBullyProof (Ball games). Our programmes have been successfully rolled out and sustained since 2006, covering 14 communities predominantly in the Cape Flats area including Bonteheuwel, Langa, Manenberg, Lavender Hill, Vrygrond, Khayalitsha, Mitchels Plain, Guguletu, Belhar, Firgrove, Macassar, Lwandle, Blue Downs. The ability to relate is a key element to being a mentor. It is for this reason that all our mentors and facilitators come from and reside within the communities they coach. This affords the children a mentor with real knowledge of the difficulties, struggles, and societal stresses the children are susceptible to.
These key individuals are identified from within the rollout community, trained as mentors under the guise of trainers in the philosophy and mission of the JAG Foundation, trained to correctly implement the various JAG Foundation programmes, and up-skilled as accredited sports coaches. These facilitators are then employed and recognised as JAG Foundation Mentors and are designated a satellite turn-key programme to run and implement under the continuous monitoring and management of the JAG Foundation. Creating a Safe Space and tackling the difficulty with the lack of Freedom of Movement, is achieved by utilising schools as our programme base and supplying safe transport to and from the programmes each day.