In order to address the harsh realities that exist within South Africa a well-trained, inspired workforce of supportive counsellors is needed to service those people who fall by the wayside of accessible mental health services and make a meaningful social impact. At SACAP we believe that our fieldwork programme is the first step towards empowering our student counsellors. We have partnered with more than 100 NGOs, with a specific focus on those that make a social impact in their community. Our students spend time working at these NGOs, gaining valuable work experience. We would like to acknowledge our amazing partner NGOs through a series of posts featuring their work.
Introduction to the Chrysalis Academy
Established in Tokai, Cape Town in 2000, the Chrysalis Academy is an initiative of the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet. Formed in an effort to combat the province’s high unemployment and crime rate in the mainly disadvantaged communities, due to substance abuse and an active gang culture, a holistic five-year youth development programme based on an initial three-month residential training course was launched.
The programme’s mission is ‘to unleash the potential of youth through mental, physical, emotional and spiritual empowerment, enabling them to become positive role models and productive citizens of the Republic of South Africa’. The Chrysalis Academy which is funded mostly by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Community Safety, acts as a preventative initiative rather than a rehabilitative one and participation is entirely voluntary and free, except for a small non-refundable deposit. Each training course consists of approximately 180 students from mixed backgrounds, who are accommodated on-site for the duration of the three-month training programme.
The course is broken up into four modules. The Orientation Phase provides students with general life skills training, including building self-esteem and improving inter-personal communication. The Outdoor Phase focuses on building leadership skills and using the healing power of nature. The Skills Phase teaches students skills such as electrical circuitry, public safety, welding and basic cookery and the Community Phase engages students in career discussions and preparing them for their entrance back into the community.
The Academy also runs a Therapeutic Care Programme where all students attend a weekly support group and practice a healing modality of their choice such as Yoga, Stress Release Exercises (TRE), Meditation, Mindfulness, Journaling and Poetry, Karate, etc.
Family involvement in the student’s transformation process is essential, so the Academy offers a Family Integration Programme. It includes workshops with parents and close family members to keep them informed of the candidate’s development process, to encourage them to consider making their own changes and to guide them in supporting their child’s transformation.
Chrysalis Academy: Then and Now
Initially, the project only focussed on young males, between the ages of 16 and 22 years old, as they were at the highest risk of joining gangs. In 2002, young females were also admitted to the programme and in 2007, due to the deteriorating conditions of unemployed youth, the age group expanded to 25 years old.
Today, over 7,700 youth from the different Western Cape communities, have completed the programme and are trained to be empowered for the challenges of life. As a result, the Academy has become one of the most successful youth development organisations in South Africa, with the Provincial Government of the Western Cape regarding it as their flagship youth development programme. The Academy has also trained youth ambassadors from Kwazulu Natal to assist them in setting up a youth academy in their province, based on the Chrysalis model.
For many of the Academy students, broken families, alcohol and substance abuse, poverty, domestic violence, childhood estrangement and loss of family are commonplace and so individual counselling sessions are required.
Students from SACAP have been doing their fieldwork component at the Chrysalis Academy for the last three years. There is currently one SACAP student from the Cape Town campus working at the centre, along with a small team of volunteers, assisting the Academy Life Coach, Fiona Brophy with her psychosocial interventions and counselling.
A former SACAP student counselled and positively influenced 19 Chrysalis students during a total of 58 sessions for her fieldwork module. Over and above providing counselling, SACAP students are given the option to run Therapeutic Groups at the Academy, including Poetry and Journaling and Hero Journey.
For further info on how to support them and to find out about volunteering opportunities, please visit www.chrysalisacademy.org.za