Seventy-eight learners, nine teachers and their families and support systems gathered in Mayfair this week for the awards and recognition event of the Tsogo Sun Arts Academy for the participating schools – Malvern Primary School, Dowling Primary School and Johannesburg Secondary.
In June this year, Tsogo Sun Arts Academy selected 150 youngsters from grades 4 to 11, from three primary schools and two high schools in disadvantaged areas in the Johannesburg area. The Academy is an upbeat, youth development initiative that uses soft skills and the arts to engage young people in a productive way, addressing life skills, career and work readiness, volunteering, internships, and capacity building. The programme is designed and run by miniMAX, the Tsogo Sun Arts Academy implementation partner.
The awards ceremony is a platform to recognise the learners who have met the required criteria in the Arts Academy, as well as shown academic prowess and growth. Academic Achievers Awards were presented for learners who achieved an 80-89% average, and the prestigious Academic Award for learners who achieved a 90% and higher average was presented to Oraldie Bandibanga from Malvern Primary and Jae – Lyn Hill from Dowling Avenue Primary.
Other awards were presented to learners who were evaluated on their performance throughout the programme and their achievement of four main milestones, which included their application of their newly acquired skills in their own communities. Nine teachers were also presented with awards for their commitment to and participation in the Arts Academy programme at their schools.
During the ceremony, five energetic song and dance numbers were performed by the vibrant and enthusiastic learners of the Arts Academy, demonstrating that learning through the fun elements of the performing arts strengthens their skills and confidence on stage.
Says Shanda Paine, Group CSI Manager for Tsogo Sun, “We’ve been impressed at the commitment by the youngsters and teachers, and by their enthusiasm for embracing all the learnings they are being exposed to. Our youth are often hampered in their efforts to join the mainstream of economic growth because of inadequacies in the preparation they are getting to take on responsibilities as productive members of society in the workplace. This Arts Academy programme curriculum is going some way to address that issue.”
Tsogo Sun’s premier entertainment destination in the south of Jo’burg, Gold Reef City, funds the Tsogo Sun Arts Academy initiatives as part of its local community development programmes. Mike Page, GM of Gold Reef City Casino, says his team is proud of all that has been achieved by the young people, the facilitators, and Gold Reef City volunteers in the 2016 programme. “These youngsters have put their hearts and souls into making the most of the opportunity that’s been given to them through the Tsogo Sun Arts Academy programme and it’s wonderful to see how their talents, confidence and skills have developed over the last six months.”
Margaret Makoka, Programme Coordinator at miniMAX, says that the 2016 Tsogo Sun Arts Academy beneficiaries have taken the initiative to be responsible and do their best in the programme. “Research shows that young people who are engaged in focused arts activities and self-development programmes, show signs of being life ready and also show evidence of higher rates of academic growth and a healthy transition into adulthood.”
Tsogo Sun’s portfolio includes over 90 hotels and 14 casino and entertainment destinations throughout South Africa, Africa, the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. For further information, visit tsogosun.com, follow on Twitter and Instagram @TsogoSun or like on Facebook /TsogoSun.