Cape Town - What started as an after-school programme in 2008 in Gugulethu has morphed into a fully fledged youth hub that is home to one of the country’s developing and internationally recognised dance groups.
Inspired by her passion for arts and craft, founder Judy Mkoko established the United We Stand Community Building Project (UWSCBP) in 2010 with the aim of addressing social ills while teaching life skills.
The organisation, which started from humble beginnings with just a handful of youngsters seeking extra school lessons, now has more than 40 members between 7 and 18 years old.
The organisation gave birth to Gugulethu United Stand Dance, a youth project that focuses on teaching traditional dance, pantsula, contemporary dance, drama and sport by using arts and crafts as a catalyst for change while cultivating a healthy lifestyle, teaching life skills through sports and recreational activities.
Chairperson Zolani Vokwana said the lack of platforms had led to the youngsters believing that they had no talent, causing them to resort to criminal activities.
“What we discovered was that in the period after school until they went to bed these youngsters were not involved in any extra mural activities, which made them susceptible to joining criminal activities.
“With crime being normalised and glorified in our communities, we took it upon ourselves to ensure that we give them a platform to showcase their talent. We also acknowledge that they didn’t have role models and lacked knowledge of how they can develop their talents, some didn’t even know that they had talent,” he said.
Vokwana said the organisation was making a tremendous impact in the youngsters’ lives by keeping them in constructive and character-building activities.
The group boasts an array of achievements and medals, which co-founder Judy Mkoko said has helped in building the group’s confidence and has stamped their place in the list of the country’s most developing dance groups.
“Our most recent achievement was the group’s appearance on Jiva, a Netflix series which showcases the country’s township dancing styles. We have three beautiful songs with two good-quality music videos and we are now working on our two Gqom and Amapiano songs and expanded playlist.
“We have a partnership with Step Up Grafixx, who do our music videos, and have also featured in one of the country’s prominent music videos featured in Prince Kaybee's song Gugulethu, where we showcased our dancing skills and also our township. We also had an opportunity to perform for the Swedish Queen in 2019,” she said.
Mkoko said their ultimate goal was to ensure that every youngster reached their full potential while also ensuring that Cape Town was an entertainment hub.