We held our second successful Holiday Club in the July holidays, with over 140 students attending over five days at Altrek, the sports and recreation centre in Alexandra.

As background to these Holiday programmes… a few years ago we decided to concentrate the Saturday academic teaching to just two subjects, English and Mathematics. We identified these as the core subjects that children in Alex need to concentrate on to improve their academic skills and their ability to progress beyond school. But this left a gap in terms of non-academic subjects such as Lifeskills. For this reason, we added extra-curricular activities on Saturdays after classes as well as two Holiday Clubs and the annual camp each year. These are our best opportunities for Christian teaching and instilling Christian values and they have proved to be so influential in shaping our student’ mind-sets and actions.

The theme for THIS Holiday Club was “Who am I? Who are we? Who is Jesus?” We chose this to fit into the national “What’s Your Story” campaign initiated and driven by the Heartlines Media Company and adopted by the Rosebank Union church. Children examined their own stories in the light of the stories of other children…What are the differences between us? How do I feel about these differences? How can I be more accepting of other people who are different from me? What expectations do others have of me and I have of myself? Then they looked at Jesus’ ‘story’…Who was He? What did He say about Himself? What did others say about Him? What do YOU say about Him? What does HE say about YOU?

The Holiday programme was packed full of art and craft activities as well as games and sports. Each team competed against itself to improve its sporting performance over the week, which further built on knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses and working together as a team.

The Holiday club leaders – key players in the success of the event – are usually compiled of ex-Rose-Act students and volunteers at other Rays of Hope projects. We made a significant change at this Holiday Club by inviting some Grade 9 learners to be group leaders. Putting a Grade 9 child into a leadership position was an important move in developing these young students’ leadership skills and developing their own maturity. To assist these young leaders, we used four supervisors who were experienced in leading groups. Each supervisor managed four groups. All in all, it went well and the young leaders rose to the occasion. Everyone learnt a lot from this experience.

An out of the normal highlight came on the Thursday, when YFM 99.2 FM radio station set up a three-hour live outside broadcast from the Holiday Club. This was part of its Mandela Day partnership with Rays of Hope. 2 000 blankets donated by listeners and corporate supporters of YFM and were given to Rays of Hope projects, including Rose-Act. They played music and in-between interviewed some of our leaders as well as other senior staff members of Rays of Hope, including our director Sihle Mooi. Then all the students gathered around and sang their newly-learned Holiday Club song, ‘You’re a V-I-P to G-O-D.’ It was amazing and the YFM DJ’s were bowled over.