City of Joburg’s Thapelo Amad launched the I Am the Future initiative which hopes to expose young people to opportunities they would normally struggle to get. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Joburg’s Thapelo Amad launched the I Am the Future initiative which hopes to expose young people to opportunities they would normally struggle to get. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Joburg MMC hopes to level playing field for young people from poor backgrounds and those with disabilities

By Itumeleng Mafisa Time of article published Jun 23, 2021

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Johannesburg - The MMC of Development Planning in the City of Joburg, Thapelo Amad has launched a project meant to inspire confidence among learners from poor backgrounds and those with physical and mental challenges.

Amad launched the I Am the Future initiative at the Wanderers Cricket stadium in Illovo on Tuesday and it seeks to expose young people to opportunities they would normally struggle to get.

The theme of the launch was “Levelling the playing field”.

The initiative will enable learners from schools around Soweto and surrounding areas to interact with sports stars and various people in rare skill careers. Different high schools were asked to send 10 pupils.

Amad said close to his heart were the children who would never get the same opportunities an average child would get, and these included children with special needs and those who came from communities struggling with drugs and broken homes.

“The reason we are here is that being a black child growing up in Soweto, which was designed by apartheid and subjected to dire conditions on the periphery of the city, we want to address these special planning issues.

So, the campaign would identify kids from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they can take advantage of their future and we are empowering them to have access to the economy,” Ahmad said.

Being a young MMC, he wanted to leave a legacy in the city that reflected his role as a young leader.

He said the best way to do that was to create opportunities for other young people.

“We want to create an environment where these kids can learn from each other and also we identified stakeholders, so they will shadow some chief executives – we want them to have lived experience by shadowing key individuals,” Amad said.

He said it was important to take into consideration the future of children with special needs because most of the time they would be left to fend for themselves after school.

He said it was even more difficult for learners who were from poor backgrounds and also experienced physical challenges.

“We are an implementing agency of those structures that you see in the city – tomorrow we could have an MMC with a disability. The kids need to understand that they can become whatever they want to become, even the chief executive of a stadium.”

Amad emphasised the future of Johannesburg was in the hands of young people.

“Responsibility is determined by the ability to deliver and not by age, it starts with the small things and will continue to bigger things, so young people must be empowered.”

Collin Nzima, a teacher from the Don Mattera School for learners with special educational needs, said he was happy with the opportunity and exposure the learners had got from the campaign. He said this was a turning point for the learners who had attended the event.

“This is of great help for them because now they have an opportunity where they know that they are accepted and there is space for them in society.

“This initiative will help them because after school they must make a plan for them. This has had provided an exit plan for them,” Nzima said.

The Star

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