Albert Fritz

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

THE first youth cafe in the Western Cape was officially opened in Rocklands in Mitchells Plain yesterday to train youth there on how to make a social impact through science and technology.

“This is not a youth centre, I want to emphasise that,” said Social Development MEC Albert Fritz.

“This is a youth cafe and the difference is it’s not just about having a programme here and then having some kids come and never knowing what happens to them again. This is a thing that’s going ... walk with them all the time.”

The initiative is government-funded along with NGO, R-labs which is based on the Cape Flats.

“The cafe is completely free. It will have training sessions where the youth can learn about business strategies and social entrepreneurship.”

R-labs founder Marlon Parker said the cafe will also welcome experts from the Harvard Business School and UCT to teach some of the sessions.

When young people arrive at the cafe, they will be given virtual credit to spend on all the resources in the cafe.

They then earn credits by either presenting acts of community service to the cafe staff or by attending a training session.

The four zones in the cafe include an “engine room” to enjoy refreshments and do homework, a “Techno Park”, featuring six computers and four laptops, a “playground” indoor room where students can brainstorm on artificial turf and an “innovation factory” for the teaching sessions.

Since the café began developing its programme, it has already seen some of its former attendees come back to serve on the new staff.

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