[CAPTION] (L-R) SA Idols 2017 winner Paxton Fiellies (17), Zintle Kati (16) and Simbongile Sam (17) recently returned from Sweden, where they performed at the award ceremony of the World Children’s Prize (WCP) in front of Queen Silvia of Sweden and hundreds of people from around the world. They return with a mandate to fight for girls to have equal rights to boys in their communities.

“As a child rights ambassador, I teach school children and members of my community about children’s rights, especially the rights of girls,” says Sam.

“I give a voice to children because few people listen to children in the communities I live in. Children are afraid to speak up about the abuses they experience on a daily level. I visit other schools to talk to children and teachers.”

Bonga Hatana and Athenkosi Halu (both 16 years old, from Khayelitsha) together with Sam and Kati (pictured above) formed a group called the Inkwenkwesi Stars that also performed in Sweden. They were joined by members of the Jazz Yard Academy Band from Bonteheuwel; Curtley Cerfontein (16), Quinley Lodewyk (17), Tyrese Stuurman (14) and Charlton Moses (16). All the children performed at the awards ceremony held at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred.

The World Children’s Prize Foundation educates and supports children in acting as changemakers, standing up for compassion, the equal worth of every individual, children’s rights, democracy and sustainable development. Since 2000, 42 million children have taken part in the programme which has the support of more than 70 000 schools in 116 countries, as well as over 778 organisations and education ministries and institutions. Since it started, half a million teachers have been trained in working with children’s rights and democracy in schools. The foundation offers valuable resources and true stories for teachers to use in Life Orientation classes when discussing issues like human trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse.

Jean Wilke from the Rotary Club of Claremont also attended the WCP conference: “Children everywhere need to know that they have rights and they are protected.” Commenting on her experiences at the conference, Wilke said that it was inspiring to see how passionate the children were about changing their world:

“I was very proud of the South African contingent. Seeing young children talking with such knowledge and maturity about critical issues was phenomenal.”

While in Sweden, Wilke met with members from the Rotary Club of Mariefred. This club together with Rotary District 2370 in Sweden wish to help expand the reach of the WCP Foundation around the world. “Our ultimate dream is for Rotary clubs along the Garden Route, and in Namibia and Angola to help connect more children at more schools to the fantastic resources and connections that the World Children’s Prize offers. We want to tap into our Rotary network of clubs in District 9350 to reach more children, particularly in remote and low-income areas where they are at increased risk.”

For more information on Rotary Club of Claremont and the various community projects and initiatives they are involved with, please visit https://www.facebook.com/RotaryClubofClaremont/.