Johannesburg, 16 July 2019; Former Olympic and Paralympic swimmer Natalie Du Toit and reformed gangster, now inspirational speaker, actor and author, Welcome Witbooi have partnered to launch a project called #YME. The project aims to educate and equip learners on WHY (‘Y’) they need to take charge of their own lives. The project will see both public figures visiting schools in Gauteng during Mandela Week this year, the launch of a series of school road shows in the pipeline.
The school visits are aimed at unpacking some of the most pressing issues facing the youth today including; access to and quality of education, lack of opportunities and pressures to ‘fit in’, mixed with a growing alcohol and drug abuse culture, the youth are also overwhelmed by the digital clutter presented on social media.
“The primary focus for the project is to educate and equip the youth to become leaders of change -whilst providing them with practical tips on how to protect themselves against physical and cyber bullying, among other dangers associated with the internet and the various social media platforms. My story speaks to the core of identity challenges and street smarts, whilst Natalie has power to influence on reputation management and cautious behaviour on the social media side,” said Welcome.
“When it comes to technology and teenagers, the dangers involved include; online stalkers, catfishing, cyberbullying and human trafficking, to mention a few. All are incredibly damaging and more common than people think. It is critical to open honest dialogues around them,” said Natalie Du Toit.
Du Toit has since moved on from her inspiring career to the communications space working with East and Sub-Saharan Africa focussed communications agency – Innocomm, where she is passionate about reputation and brand management as well as digital and social media.
“We have a responsibility to be real with young people, we cannot simply give them a motivational moment and walk away. Life is tough and this project is only the first step in providing the frameworks to help them navigate their environments and their lives. Children are the future and we truly believe that children of today should be seen and heard. We need to build a new understanding of what today’s young South Africans are dealing with” said Du Toit.
Welcome Witbooi is set on creating change for youth; “I think it is somehow written into my purpose and I also have a daughter who constantly reminds me of how present I should be in other children’s lives as well.”
The pair have called on youth across the country to ‘be heard’ by sharing ‘WHY they matter’ with the #YMEChallenge. The social media challenge centred around cultivating a culture of upliftment and support for each other.
“This is just the beginning! We are aiming to build sustainable programmes for youth and it is our mission to meet the individual needs of the communities we will go to. We are two people who love South Africa and we want to stir the urgency that we, as a nation have a responsibility to help young people and everybody can play a part,” concluded Witbooi.
This project is an initiative by Natalie Du Toit and Welcome Witbooi, in conjunction with Innocomm and HiSide.