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Honouring Youth and Celebrating Youth in Service

Service leaders in red jackets with their hands up to take the City Year pledge

The Red Jacket, City Year South Africa’s symbol of a full-time year of service commitment, counts on the dedication of young people to help contribute positively to build our country.  Fittingly, during the month of June, while we honour those youth of the past who opposed the apartheid regime and government that systemically perpetuated injustice on the basis of racial inequality, we celebrated the youth of today who do their part and take their place as caretakers of that hard fought freedom and make a meaningful contribution to the development of their country through a full-time year of service.

Service leaders at the Red Jacket Dedication Ceremony

The City Year South Africa programme is built around the knowledge that when youth are given the platform to make a meaningful contribution to the development of the country, many rise up to the challenge. The annual Red Jacket Ceremony celebrated the youth who took up the challenge in 2019 to build their country by rolling up their sleeves and becoming actively involved in community development initiatives; offering their hands and feet as instruments for real social change in school and communities around Johannesburg. During their year of service that aims to meet developmental needs, the young people also go through City Year’s work readiness programme, recognising the need for skills development among youth. Keynote speaker, Merrill Lynch’s Ms. Thembeka Mgoduso, Corporate Broking – Global and Corporate Investment, who represented the expanded global partnership of Bank of America with City Year, currently in three countries (The UK, the USA and now South Africa), articulated it well in the keynote address stating, “our partnership is rooted in our shared belief in the power of building young civil leaders to ensure students achieve academically, develop their potential and master career building skills.”

Woman speaking at the podium

Seventy-two young people took on the City Year South Africa challenge in 2019 to become service leaders and were excited to finally receive their red jacket, the organisational signature uniform piece that is earned through commitment and dedication to their work.  City Year South Africa Executive Director, Daylene van Buuren, also a City Year Service Leader alumnus of 2006, spoke briefly in her introduction, acknowledging the youth of 1976 and urging the young people of 2019 to take up the baton to build a better tomorrow and to use the opportunities they have been given to make a positive contribution in schools, in communities and to grow and develop themselves.

The commitment of a country to its youth and commitment of the youth to their country is instrumental to building a country that will be able to fulfill the long awaited promised freedom and inclusive economic development.  If these young people are the measure of tomorrow’s leaders, South Africa is well on the road to a new dawn and a brighter future.

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