Lydia Nsenda loves to run! As the school’s top middle-distance runner, she ran to school this morning from Troyeville for her interview and choir practice – and arrived barely out of breath. A quietly composed young woman, Lydia is the first of our Ruth First girls, (and the first Jeppe Girl) to take up the challenge of the President’s Award Gold Level – and she is almost there!
The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment is “an internationally recognised programme which exists to equip youth to succeed in life and work. It offers young people the opportunity to develop their character, discover their purpose and determine their future to contribute to building a better South Africa for all.”
Lydia started out on her President’s Award journey in 2017 and was awarded her Bronze Award in November 2018. There are five components to the award: Service, Physical Recreation, Skills, Adventurous Journey and Residential Project.
Lydia has completed her Service commitments through volunteering at the City Point Church as a pre-school Sunday School teacher and providing homework assistance to Grade 4’s and 5’s at the Joseph Project, a Community Centre. She relishes working with children and helping them reach their potential.
The Physical Recreation component has easily been completed with her commitment to Athletics and Netball at school. For her Skill, she has developed her interest and ability in Graphic Design, using new tools like GIMP. Her artistic flair is evident through her output which forms part of her portfolio for the Award.
Lydia undertook her Gold Adventurous Journey in July at Suikerbosrand, just south of Johannesburg. Carrying all of her own (admittedly too much!) equipment, Lydia joined a group of fellow participants over the 80 kilometer, four day hike. Challenges included the cold and windy weather, a very heavy pack and integrating into the group of strangers. Looking back on this journey, Lydia reflects how she ‘found her voice’ when she was required to lead the group – encouraging them, soliciting feedback and speaking out.
For her Residential Project, Lydia will travel to Hoedspruit in December to spend five days at the Moholoholo Wildlife Centre which is recognized as a pioneer in the conservation of rare and endangered animal species. Activities she will be involved in include preparation of food and feeding of the small and big cats, cleaning and maintenance of the enclosures and the possibility of assisting in the hand-rearing of animals.
“Being involved in the President’s Award has given me the opportunity to spend time in nature – I appreciate it more. It has broadened my horizons and I have been able to achieve something outside of school. I have met new people, grown and found out what I’m good at: working with children. My confidence levels have also improved – they are now at 7/10 and I hope that when I come back to school next year, they will have grown to an 8.”