After climbing the Lion’s Head in Cape Town with Mark Dodsworth – the founder of the Red Zebra Foundation – he invited me to work with a youth group the next day. The plan was to hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town with 16 youth and to do my juggling program for them at the top. I was excited.
It was a busy morning purchasing 30 tennis balls from a store that I’d never been to, but I was able to do that and grab a bite to eat in central Cape Town just in time to catch my ride to the trailhead. There I met Jo-Annstrausse – a famous South African television presenter and model. She had volunteered to come and work with the group as well. I was immediately impressed with how friendly and down to earth she was.
The students were brought in by the company ETC to thank them for their strong efforts in school. This program was set up to encourage them to stay on the right path, to keep off of drugs and to go after their dreams despite their challenges. Only one of the 14 – 16 year old children had ever been to Cape Town before.
The hike was beautiful although cloudy for the 2nd half. Hiking in the cloud was still enjoyable as it made me take a closer look at the things that I often miss while hiking – the local plants. I was reminded of just how much I love being on mountains. I always get so much energy from being up there.
After 3 hours of medium-paced hiking, we were at the top. It felt like we had done some work, but nobody was exhausted. We arrived at this wonderful hut for the evening activities. Although it was not raining, there was so much condensation on the trees at the top, it seemed like it was. So it was a glorious treat to get in from the wind to find a roaring fire was already burning. One of our guides, Paul had arranged this.
The cabin was over 100 years old with 2 foot deep stone walls. Inside was simple and charming. There was no electricity, just candle light and bunk beds for the students to sleep in.
Once we were settled and dry, there was some magic and some games before Jo gave a beautiful talk. She spoke about how we are all who we are because of those around us. She gave some detail about her challenging childhood and how she went from rags to riches. And she also told them about the importance of education and to help those in their community.
I was truly inspired by her casual, funny speech and wondered how I was going to follow it!
After a brief break, it was my turn. We moved a couple of the tables aside to accommodate for the juggling. I knew that the presentation on focus that I usually do might not be appropriate so I made some modifications. The points that came out of me built on Jo’s presentation. As I taught them to juggle, I had them discuss the most meaningful thing that they took from her talk, among other things.
We had FUN and it went very well. It’s always satisfying to teach a group to juggle because when people achieve a certain step, they often shout out or cheer at their new success! Sometimes you can hear bursts of this from various parts of the room as it happens to different people. The excitement builds as they are learning.
They were very playful and fantastic to work with. I found it more meaningful to me than some of the other work I’ve done because of the looks on their faces. They were lost in this new play with tennis balls bouncing around everywhere. There was no judgement, and it seemed that any problems that they had in the world were definitely not there with us at that time. I know that I’d created a few new jugglers while sharing my message. At that young age, students are so impressionable, and I believe that it’s the best time to make an impression. I must do more of this with my work!
This day inspired me to work with youth once I get back to Canada. And I will. I know that the gifts I have do not need to be limited to building my business for me. I must share them now with people who need them most.
Following my session, Mark Dodsworth and his colleagues from Red Zebra arrived and facilitated an amazing drumming session. It was also powerful. And finally, we had the braai, and to close the night there was a goo-in-the-dark juggling show to Mark’s “lakar beats” on the jambe.
It was an intense program with this group of kids and some inspiring adults. I was impressed with how well they all did as many of them had been up since 5am that day!
Juggling on top of this mountain with a group of disadvantaged youth turned out to be the highlight of my first 3 week tour in South Africa.
I am so grateful for what this experience has taught me and I am excited to share what I have learned with my friends, colleagues and clients once I am back home.