For the past nine years the Department of Social Development has funded LifeLine for a teen educator programme, which we call the “Young Warrior” programme. The candidates are learners who are going into Grade 10 in the following year.
We approach twenty schools in the Sedibeng area and two learners are selected to participate. One girl and one boy from each of the twenty schools are selected by the Principal.

In the first week of December they are taken by bus to a venue where they spend a week, living in, getting to know each other and participating in a series of “lessons” on life and how to live it. They are provided with knowledge, skills and behaviours to become role models in the school and community. The biggest lesson they learn is on RESPECT, which guides the whole week’s activities. They are informed on aspects of basic counselling to assist their peers. The venue management has commented on the fact that in the past eight years there has never been an incident or any damage to property! The learners have lesson time and plenty of play time. In the evenings they are able to swim, play music in the recreation room and play various games such as finger board. George secures entertainment which in most cases show the leaners what they would be able to achieve if they set their minds to it. Some of the entertainers have been The Tenors (learners from Gen Smuts High School), the Soul Sisters (also learners from Gen Smuts), Jennifer Jones (entertainer and singer) who is also LifeLine’s Ambassador, a Drumming group and many others.

George van Schalkwyk, or Papa G, as he is known is the trainer and thoroughly enjoys the time with these teens inspiring and motivating them. He has two young people who assist during the week, a male and a female who also act as chaperones and mentors.

These young learners’ journey includes supervision meetings every quarter where George provides additional information and assists them in their activities during the year. The Peer Educators are tasked to reach at least 10 other peers, either at their school or in their communities, during this period. By the time the week is over many strong bonds have been formed and great friendships have been established. In the meanwhile, a whatsapp group is formed, and George is part of this. He assists them with all their challenges and does a fair amount of counselling including interacting with the family if necessary.

At the end of the year the learners receive certificates at a function which is usually attended by the Director and Chairman. Each participant receives a Golf shirt and cap at the beginning of the year to distinguish them for their job as Peer Educators.