United Through Sport South Africa has had a long-standing and fruitful relationship with Astra Primary School, where many children’s lives have been transformed through the power of sport.
The relationship started in 2005 when United Through Sport, a registered not for profit organisation based in Port Elizabeth, got involved with sports coaching at Astra Primary School. It was the same year United Through Sport’s founder and director, Nick Mould, identified the need for sport for good work in Nelson Mandela Bay, in partnership with co-founders from the United Kingdom.
Initially United Through Sport focused on direct sports coaching at various schools and communities across Nelson Mandela Bay. The next stage was to introduce a life skills curriculum, with a focus on HIV and AIDS, and in 2011 United Through Sport included a focus on academic support and academic pathways to success.
Junior School of Excellence anchor school
Astra Primary School is an anchor school for the Junior School of Excellence (JSE) Programme of United Through Sport. The programme nurtures participants with ability and determination to give them access to extra academic education, sports coaching and personal development at after-school classes. The JSE Programme offers a safe environment to channel the children’s energy into positive personal development.
Children between the ages of 11 and 13, spend one to two years in United Through Sport’s JSE Programme – with the intention of preparing them more thoroughly for high school. Children from schools in the area surrounding Astra Primary School attend the sessions. A parallel JSE programme is also run at Isaac Booi Primary School in Zwide. The children are selected (150 in total) at the beginning of the year when they try out in the various sporting codes and undergo basic academic tests, to determine a placement in the JSE Programme.
In addition, United Through Sport’s international volunteer teachers also offer one-on-one reading sessions and voluntary assistance to the teachers of Astra Primary School during the school day – as needed in and outside of the classroom.
New Astro Turf built
United Through Sport has invested in the sports infrastructure at Astra Primary School by building a Multi-Purpose AstroTurf, used for hockey and soccer training. United Through Sport, with the help of various funders, built the turf in 2015/16 and launched it on Mandela Day in 2016. The turf is used by United Through Sport’s coaches during the sports sessions of the JSE after-school’s programme, as well as other programmes and events, hosted in partnership with the school.
United Through Sport is currently fundraising for a Multi-Purpose Court for training activities at Astra Primary School. The court will be a four-in-one facility where netball, basketball, tennis and 5-a-side-soccer can be played.
GirlsUnite Pilot Programme launched
United Through Sport’s JSE Programme offers an environment of safety and positivity and a beacon of hope for many young children growing up in the surrounding community. As an added investment into the girls from the school and surrounding community, United Through Sport also launched a girls empower programme in 2018 at Astra Primary School: GirlsUnite.
The focus of GirlsUnite is to help girls cope with some of the challenges they face through structured Self-defence, Literacy and Counselling sessions. The girls’ empowerment programme is for girls aged 10 to 13 years old, from Bethelsdorp and surrounding areas. The GirlsUnite Programme is a one-year project, made possible by EMpower’s Bright Promise Awards, from the Estee Lauder Companies Charitable Foundation.
Nelson Mandela University’s Psychology Clinic, which is based at the Missionvale campus, is also partnering with United Through Sport by offering counselling services for the GirlsUnite Programme. When it is not used for counselling, a refurbished container placed at the school functions as a girls-only space used for one-on-one reading and informal mentoring sessions. Other than girls from Astra Primary, girls from the surrounding community can also make use of the girls-only space and drop in counselling services.
Proud track record of transforming lives
United Through Sport’s JSE Programme has produced some excellent academic and sporting candidates over the years, with many top candidates coming from Astra Primary School. Through this programme and their developed sporting ability, many of the JSE children manage to obtain scholarships through United Through Sport’s Senior School of Excellence (SSE) Programme to attend some of the top schools in Port Elizabeth. The SSE Programme has a consistent 100% pass rate with most of the graduates furthering their tertiary studies after high school. One example of the many talented children from Astra Primary who have been part of the SSE is Bronwyn White, who is studying at Free State University to become a medical doctor. She achieved her 2017 National Senior Certificate with a Bachelors Pass and attained four distinctions through Pearson High School.
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