New initiative aims at helping schoolboys realise potential

Blitzbok rugby player Cecil Afrika enjoys time with the Grade 11 schoolboys attending the inaugural #MentortheBoys workshop
Blitzbok rugby player Cecil Afrika enjoys time with the Grade 11 schoolboys attending the inaugural #MentortheBoys workshop
Image: Tremaine van Aardt

Aimed at bolstering schoolboys in Nelson Mandela Bay, the inaugural #MentortheBoys workshop saw 100 pupils from 10 schools gather in Parsons Hill yesterday to unpack challenges facing young men.

The event, held at the Hellenic Hall in Conyngham Street, saw speakers including businessmen, social media experts and motivational speakers run through a programme aimed at tackling relevant issues ranging from personal safety to financial fitness, business ethos and social media etiquette.

Michelle Brown, owner of Brown’s PR and organiser of yesterday’s event, said the idea had been prompted by her work as chairwoman of the Port Elizabeth branch of the Businesswomen’s Association.

“I noticed that there were so many events involving girls, such as the Take a Girl Child to Work day.

“So I realised the need for boys to also be mentored as they are often sidelined in society’s goal of transformation,” Brown said.

“We were targeting pupils from less privileged schools, in order to expose them to a variety of topics and experts they wouldn’t usually encounter in their environment.

“This allows them to realise their potential and what is required to make the most of it.”

Social media expert and strategic director of Magnetic Storm, Jane Stevenson, left the Grade 11 pupils rethinking their approach to “likes” and “shares”.

“If you are online on any social media platform including WhatsApp, you have a personal brand and social media is the world’s new CV,” Stevenson said.

“As an employer I troll before you get an interview.

“A CV is what you want the world to see, whereas your social media account is actual footage of your world.

“So invest in your personal brand because it is the only thing you really have 100% control over.”

While not a speaker at the event, Blitzbok Cecil Afrika received a resounding round of applause when he surprised the pupils.

“I think it is a fantastic initiative and I wanted to be a part of it to simply try to impact and motivate these boys to keep focused on their goals and strive and sacrifice in achieving their dreams,” Afrika said.

Douglas Mbopa High School Grade 11 pupil Kamvelihle Balfour, 16, said the event had been both entertaining and insightful.

“I have learnt so much already about things I never realised affected me at present and in my future decisions.”

Brown said the event had been possible only through her collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the People Like Us organisation.