Art empowers young achievers for life’s challenges

Onyinye Ndubuisi (18) is the youngest producer at BrightSpark Foundation SA, and runs a youth based talk show called “Let’s talk” for The Arts, Drama and Entertainment programme. 

She is a beneficiary of a MEETCHANGEMAKERS grant to support the BrightSpark Foundation’s arts programme.

Like the majority of the young people finding a creative outlet from the challenges of poverty and violence, Onyinye was raised by her grandparents after her mother moved to another country and her father passed away.

Joining BrightSpark has been a life-changing experience. “The BrightSpark arts and entertainment programme has had a very great impact in my life,” she says.

The BrightSpark Foundation APC (acting, photography, dance) programme allows the young people the opportunity to express their emotions through arts and drama, storytelling and poetry. It is also a means to heal from the trauma experienced and give meaning to their lives.

“Today. I’m a young producer at the BrightSpark Foundation, SA, and I am pretty proud of myself,” says Onyinye.

“I’m amazed. I’m actually happy that I’m one of the youngest producers, and I’m really doing a great job”.

Through APC programme Onyinye has learned that hardships and challenges can be overcome through perseverance and never giving up. 

“Anything and everything is possible, if you put your mind into it. 

“And the motivation I will give to the youth out there would be guys, nothing is impossible, because the word impossible is made up of ‘I’m possible’”, she says.

The APC Programme 

BrightSpark Foundation founder Welcome Witbooi says he started the APC Programme in 2012 “as a means to help young people, especially those from vulnerable communities, to get off the streets, and also out of out of the gangs.”

The former gangster understands how young people get sucked into the culture. “Many young people are in a position where they have nothing to keep them busy. 

“They spend their time loitering around and not really having anywhere to go.

The Cape Flats has talent

“We were very surprised to see how many young people came forward and started partaking in the programme. Since we were established, we have mentored, taught and coached more than 300 youngsters.

“From an artistic point of view, the arts programme helps them to hone and showcase their talents, be they in the form of drama, music or painting. Here they have the freedom to be artistic and dramatic,” he says.

Changing lives

The Cape Flats, where the Foundation has its studio and training facilities, is among the most crime-ridden residential areas in South Africa.

More than half of its young people are without work, due in part to a lack of skills and opportunities. 

The arts provide hope for youngsters like Onyinye. 

“Our approach is to understand the challenges our youth face, and then to create opportunities from the challenges. 

“Through the programme emerging artists are given the opportunity to change their circumstances and destiny by becoming purpose-driven by following a life plan,” says Witbooi.


Healing hurts

“We predominantly work with young people coming from single parent households. The arts provide them with a safe space to express their hurt and anger. 

“It is very therapeutic expressing anger through rap, through music and through art. Youngsters learn to channel that anger into positive things”.

This has an impact on society as a whole as there are fewer young angry and rebellious people. 

“Having worked through their feelings and anger they are able to go home and have a meaningful conversation with their parent or guardian. 

“It takes time, but they leave the programme without the intense anger they felt, but with hope and confidence and a means to express their frustrations in a positive way”.

The MEETCHANGEMAKERS grant has provided additional impetus to the programme.

“There is a lot of growth taking place. With support we can intensify our work and bring more elements into the APC programme.

“Onyinye is an example of how our youth become peer educators, teaching other young people to be custodians of their own lives. 

“They choose not to choose crime as a way out of the challenges they face,” says Witbooi.