LEPHALALE — The 15 year old Kyle McDonald from Hoërskool Ellisras walked away with the Certificate of Achievement and the grand prize of International Leadership Academy 2016 at the Bravo Youth and FASA leadership academy function held at FASA Lodge on 2 May.
McDonald, currently in grade 9, is one of the 30 learners who were selected from three schools, namely Hoërskool Ellisras, Mabalane Seleka Technical School and Phegelelo High in October 2016, to focus on community projects while preparing themselves to be leaders.
In February this year he invited a hip-hop group from Cape Town called Heal the Hood to assist learners in rural schools to realise their talents through the group’s activities. He had studied the shocking statistics of alcohol and drug abuse as well as teenage pregnancy in Lephalale. He told Mogol Post that when he was given the task, everything looked impossible with complicated ‘logistical stuff to do that looked like mountains piled up on each other”.
He started the project in December 2016 after watching Heroes of SA 2016 TV programme, where Heal the Hood was celebrated for their work in Cape flats. “Prior to that I didn’t have anything to do but after watching the programme I realised “I have to do this” and started my preparation by sending emails to the group. Now as a winner I will continue working hard and this year I will take a different category, though the efforts won’t change” said McDonald.
To learners who will be participating in the ILA 2017, McDonald said: “If you begin with something, you have to get it done. Don’t give up, have perseverance because if you lack these your initiative will not work. If you start something you have to do your absolute best to finish it.”
McDonald’s view on leadership is that leaders can lead people into a positive direction, as great leadership navigates for and influences whoever is led.
ILA Director Johann Young said it all started with a camping trip, where learners were exposed to leadership material, experimental learning and several fun games. “We then challenged them to complete a community project in the next six months. So far 25 out of 30 learners completed their projects.”
Young says there is a need for leaders who are sensitive to the needs of the community instead of being self-serving. They have a vision to grow the number of students participating this year through the relationship they have with the schools. “Learners who completed their 2016 projects will be re-invited and the process of recruiting 10 new learners in grade 8 has begun. Teachers help us to select suitable candidates with the necessary leadership skills.”
Young said what struck him most throughout the process was that the learners have hope, especially in a country where people want to know where hope is!
Hoërskool Ellisras, the school with the top performing learner, was awarded a R5 000 cheque.