I’m a whole new person

Cwenga, 18 years old – SCORE Volunteer in Franschhoek Valley Community Sport Centre

I grew up in a small township called Mbekweni in Paarl/ Western Cape. I live with my mother and little sister. My mother is my rock, she is a very strong woman. To be honest she is the reason I’m so determined to reach high in life.

I joined SCORE in 2010 when I was doing my first year at Wellington High School. At the same time the Mbekweni Community Sport Centre was opened. I started up just as a gym participant and grew fond of it. Later, I joined the Young Leaders, one of the youth groups in the SCORE organization. During that time, I got opportunities to join SCORE trainings and workshops. We had Kicking Aids Out programs, events workshops and coaching trainings, facilitated by suitable SCORE coordinators.

In June 2013, a group of Germans from adidas came to visit us for a two weeks coaching camp for the kids of Mbekweni, which took place at Mbekweni Community Sport Centre. What made it more interesting was the fact that new activities like Zumba and Yoga were introduced. It was at this coaching camp where I met my Zumba mentor Steffi. Through that small period of their stay with us, she trained me to run Zumba sessions.

In 2015, after passing my matric I couldn’t find a college to further my studies, which really frustrated me because I didn’t know what to do. I decided to upgrade my results and help out at the Community Sport Centre with the fitness programs as usual. Early February 2015, one of the SCORE managers called and offered me an opportunity to go on an exchange program to France. This program was coordinated and funded by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA ) and SCORE was one of the South African organizations that was invited to nominate a candidate. When SCORE proposed this offer to me I was quite nervous: I have never been out of the country before, I was going to be alone, I can’t speak French and my biggest concern was … what was I going to do there? The 'what if’s' were bombarding my mind. Eventually, I realized and questioned myself: why did SCORE choose me as their candidate? Surely, there must be something good that I’m doing. After a rational thought and the courage I got from family and friends, I finally decided to accept the offer.

My expectations of this whole experience were to learn new things, develop skills and to engage with different people. I expected independency as a platform to grow.

In France, I was based in the nice small city Dijon where I worked with youth organizations. I ran fitness programs and helped to organize sports days for young people in Dijon. Most of the young people I worked with are university students and young workers. Although, I was working with different people who spoke a different language, the fact that they were all my age made it easy to mingle and connect with them.

After my experience, I can confidently say that I have grown and still going further. I’m a whole new person. After this huge experience one can never be the same ever. It is experiences like these that rejuvenate willing young people to do more.

Coming back to South Africa SCORE further invited me to volunteer at Franschhoek Valley Community Sport Centre. I work at three different schools and do fitness and active games with children on a daily basis. Working with these young people has turned out to be fun for me but most importantly for them, too. I have been with them since August and till this time I have seen some great improvement in them. Most of them got more interested in our programs and started to join our sessions, not only at schools but also came here at the Sport Centre for after school sessions.

I also do Aerobics fitness sessions at the Franschhoek Sport Centre. This fitness session is for the whole community of Franschhoek - young and old. Each week more and more people are joining.

I joined SCORE coming from nothing, but through my experience with the organization even I’m surprised watching myself becoming something. A potential was realised in me and my life was changed it would only be selfish of me not to go out there and do the same. If SCORE did not give me the platform to express myself, I wouldn’t have changed from that self-cornered and self-limiting person to this confident individual.

As a young person I do have future plans and dreams: Firstly I want to obtain my degree(s) in sport psychology and social work. I have a dream of being a professional fitness trainer, and have my own fitness company. And I know: I can do it.