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The Happy Feet Youth Project was founded in 2007 by Siviwe Mbinda in an effort to provide a safe after school environment for the children of his community. In 2008, through Siviwe’s work as a tourist guide in Langa, he saw an opportunity to further develop the mentor relationship he had with a small group of children. By pairing tourism with the children he expanded to teach gumboots dance as a catalyst to enable psychosocial and concrete benefits for the children. Siviwe Mbinda and Nathi Gigaba have partnered together to establish a program which empowers the children through gumboots and traditional dance to be confident and disciplined in achieving their goals. The participants are required to balance their school work, participation in the Happy Feet activities, as well as how they carry themselves within the community. The program includes approximately 60 boys and girls ages 3-18. Through dedication and hard work Happy Feet has performed at conferences, traditional ceremonies, hotels, universities, dance competitions, museums, and in parliament. The funding Happy Feet receives goes towards uniforms, traditional instruments, a feeding scheme, school fee and material support, and Happy Feet outings and functions.

Objectives:

  • To promote youth development through sports and culture
  • To build self-esteem and confidence by participating in positive activities
  • Giving guidance, teaching life skills and teamwork
  • Taking kids off the streets by creating interesting and positive environment for them.
  • Motivating the youth to have respect and discipline for themselves and others.
  • Encouraging HIV positive children to be active in sports and cultural activities.
  •  Installing positive attitude to ex-convicts and teenage mothers through participating and being involved in uplifting the community.
  • Involving physically disabled children through our activities, for them not to feel they are different from other kids.
  • Taking kids to places of interest outside of their community in order to open theirminds.
  • Working with disadvantaged children, there was a need for basic needs, feeding the children, providing the kids with clothes, providing the kids with school material as well as assisting the kids with the school fees

Short-term Goals:

  • “Face Lift” of current garage space- i.e. new roll-up garage door, mural paintings, floor refinishing, planting of flowers
  • Building a roof and sides over large outdoor stage- to enable cover from weather and an amphitheater like appearance
  • Nutritional feeding scheme- improving the nutritional value of the small meal provided to the children- i.e. replacing the soda drink with a piece of fruit, brown bread rather than white
  • Brochures- Provide informational material to those who visit Happy Feet as well as at performances
  • Overhead projector to enable community movie nights on outdoor stage
  • Recreation equipment

Mid-term Goals:

  • Purchasing a shipping container as an intermediary solution to be used as storage and classroom environment
  • Internet- to allow for homework and educational programs
  • Laptop computers- to support computer skills learning
  • Stereo and IPod- to expose the children to different types of music and dance
  • Happy Feet Youth Project Website

Long-term Goals

  • Property- Happy Feet Youth Centre- foster a safe and sustainable space that can serve more children
  • Transport vehicle- allows us to work with children who live in the larger Langer area and other Townships and to transport to performances and outings.
  • Children’s Community Kitchen-  within the township there is a challenge with food availability afterschool and we plan to bridge this gap with a nutritional meal
  • Scholarship Program- Primary, High School, and University
  • Continued partnership with ISV Program- to expose the children to new games, English language, and the spark of interest from other children to join the program.

Vision for the future:

Currently Happy Feet sustains itself through donations from tourists who visit 2-3 times a week supporting the feeding scheme, payment from performances, and our new partnership with International Student Volunteers Inc. In the future we hope to establish more sustainable partnerships in order to expand the positive impact of Happy Feet with in the community of Langa. We hope to expand from the current small garage space and stage area to a Happy Feet owned property which would include a dance space, library/study centre, and a children’s community kitchen.

Currently 98% of the children attend Township Primary and High Schools. We have seen the difference between the children that attend outside, semi-private schools in their confidence and communication skills and want more of our participants to be benefiting from this type of education. We plan to establish a scholarship, bursaries, and student loans program to empower the 98% to access quality education from primary through tertiary institution in order for them to become the best leaders of tomorrow.

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