Our iPOWER Foundation Programme is a compulsory, entry level foundation programme and focuses on teaching participants basic life skills, personal health, cleaning, laundry and cooking skills over 17 days. When funding is available, entrepreneurial and basic computer skills are added to this programme. By equipping students with those additional skills, we increase the employability of our beneficiaries and their ability to start their own small businesses should they wish to do so. Learners can either opt to exit training after completing this programme or choose to proceed to one of three Advanced Programmes offered by us.
The final component of our iPOWER and Life Skills programmes involves taking our beneficiaries on a three-day camp called the Wilderness Experience. The camp is offered in partnership with Usiko in Jamestown in Stellenbosch. During this camp beneficiaries are able to apply the life skills that they have learnt in the class in a foreign environment that will require them to draw on their teamwork and conflict management skills and challenge self-sabotaging beliefs amongst others.
Our experience and research tell us that developing life skills are essential to achieving success and building resilience in any area of life. Many of our beneficiaries have experienced failure in their lives, whether it is through an unfinished school career, incomplete tertiary training or a career that did not take off. This is why it is important for our beneficiaries to immediately start applying the life skills they have learnt in the classroom in real life situations and cement the application of those same skills after they are employed.
The Wilderness Experience allows us to do this by taking our beneficiaries out of their comfort zone and asks them to apply the life skills they have learnt in the class in a foreign space, in this case, nature. Here they will learn to overcome fear, work in a team, get to experience the benefits of solitude and freedom, and discover who they really are. It also instils a sense of self-leadership, responsibility and offers intensive training in personal and social skills. During the Wilderness Experience beneficiaries are able to work on problems in their lives and find solutions, as well as begin the journey of healing and learn new, healthy behaviour patterns. This is particularly powerful for participants who come from and still experience poverty and violence at home.
By doing the mind and body work, young people learn to heal the “wilderness” within themselves through a transformational journey where they will discover the qualities they need, not only for survival, but also to thrive.