In an effort to protect children from the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, UNICEF South Africa has partnered with Canoeing South Africa, with the Grootbos Foundation identified to implement the Sport for the Environment and Climate Change programme.
The Grootbos Foundation is a non-profit organisation, established in 2003 with the vision of conserving the unique Cape Floral Kingdom and a mission to develop sustainable livelihoods in the communities through ecotourism, enterprise development, sports development and education. The Development Canoeing Programme for 8-15 year olds is run on the Klein River in Stanford in partnership with the Stanford Canoe Club. It teaches basic water safety and water conservation, and gives opportunities to participate in local and national canoeing, marathon and sprint regattas throughout the year.
“One day I was going to the river to take a swim. I saw this guy, I thought he was going to steal something, but he was going to the river to paddle. I did not know what paddling was. He told me everything. I used to be the slowest person in our club, but now I am King of the Sprints. My coach and family were so happy for me.”
My name is Sibongeleni, otherwise known as “CJ”. I live in Stanford, I am 18 years old, and I started canoeing when I was 12. The Grootbos Foundation helped me a lot with clothing, shoes, tickets, and sponsorship. My mother did not have money to buy me these things. They support all of us at our river and our club. They have been with us a long time.
“The number of kids who want to join is increasing, so I believe that I am not only doing this for myself but for my community. Now people will now know that we do have sportsmen even in little unknown places. I think the future for sport in my community is bright as I see many young kids who are so determined and want to make it in sport. I want to see more kids playing sports. With more of these programmes around a lot can happen.”
My name is Siphesihle (but I am known as SK). I am 21 years old and am living in a small village in the Western Cape. I played soccer as a kid and I have been involved with Grootbos Foundation since I was in primary school. I go canoeing four times a week.
“During winter it gets really cold and rainy for training sessions. That can cause laziness for some of my teammates!”
My name is Siyamamkela and I will be turning 22 this December. I am from Stanford, paddling for Stanford Canoe Club. Canoeing is very important to me because it keeps me off the streets. I am this disciplined man today because of canoeing and the good people around me.
“Canoeing shows me that I can achieve anything if I can just work hard, put in more effort and dedication to what I want to achieve. It also teaches me to believe in myself. Canoeing has helped me learn about climate change. We sometimes take our time to clean the river by removing things that pollute our water.”
My name is Sibusiso. I am 16 years old and I am studying in grade 11 this year. Canoeing is important to me because it teaches me a lot of things. It shows me that I can achieve anything if I can just work hard, put in more effort and dedication to what I want to achieve. It also teaches me to believe in myself.