In Nyanga, the most murderous precinct in the country, we saw a lack of credible weekend programs for kids and youth. This arose from our diagnostic on local pathways to violence. We set up and run a program of ‘pro-social activities’ ranging from free screenings of recent cinema releases (courtesy of Ster Kinekor) through to ‘open mic’ and yoga. The platform is branded enticingly for appeal, not as ‘safety programming’.
The program currently attracts up to 300 kids on weekend afternoons, and consistently draws close to 150 older teenagers to ‘open mic’ on Friday evenings. Lab project managers currently oversee the activities, with on-the-ground coordination through a local field team supported by EPWP Public Works stipends (facilitated by the Department of Community Safety).
The One Comm program operates out of the Zolani Centre, part of City Sports & Recreation. It exists in the broader context of the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Program (MURP) coordinated in Nyanga by Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU).
On October 10th, 2014, One Comm (then known Nyanga Yethu) hosted a youth pop-up lounge to test the viability of a space that could function independently, or in conjunction with our successful Hip-Hop Open Mic Night on its one year anniversary. The goal – to create an attractive alternative to at-risk behavior during the time of violence in Nyanga on Friday evening, and to test, without incentive, the popularity of the Youth Lounge option.
The key components provided: DJ, sound, bean bags, tables, seats, pool table, popcorn, and some underutilized tablets (utilizing our Free Internet Zone). The result surpassed our expectations, attracting roughly 100 youth 16-22 for three hours in addition to our 180 youth in the open mic. The following video is a short depiction of the event, beginning to end. We intend to launch this lounge for permanent use at Zolani within the next 6 months.