Exceptional young South Africans – including a convicted armed robber and a disabled children’s activist – received a gold medal from Jacob Zuma on Thursday at the 30th annual President’s Award for Youth Empowerment in Cape Town.
The award acknowledged 120 young people who have completed tasks in the areas of community service, sport, skills, an adventurous journey and a residential project.
Medals were presented by the president, with British royalty Prince Edward and Princess Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex, at the Table Bay Hotel.
Jason Coldicott, 25, joined the President’s Award Programme only because he had nothing else to do. He was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery, he was a drug addict, and he could see no future for himself.
Coldicott rewrote matric maths and is completing a BSc in computer sciences through Unisa while serving the remainder of his sentence.
Chaeli Mycroft’s mettle was tested when she completed the physical recreation requirement.
Chaeli was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She completed the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, is planning a hike up Kilimanjaro and takes part in ballroom dancing competitions.
She started the Chaeli Campaign with her sister and friends to improve the lives of disabled children.
The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment is part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award which is presented in 144 countries, with 25 in Africa.
The duke’s son, Prince Edward, was present to congratulate South Africa’s winners.
“I hope it has inspired you to help many more young people in the future,” he said. “And when you leave this room, walk a few inches taller.”