Trailblazer Class of 2021 Launches & Highlights
Trailblazer Program Class of 2021 officially launched on 12 July 2021. We were thrown a curve ball when a third national lockdown was announced at the end of June, restricting gathering in person and suspending the school year. But we quickly regrouped and, using lessons learned in 2020, were able to redesign the Trailblazer Program Launch to be fully online. This was the first fully virtual launch of our Trailblazer Program, which was done using Facebook Community Groups and WhatsApp, and a lot of determination and focus by our Trailblazer Champions and HQ Teams.
This year’s Trailblazer Class was sponsored for 3 provinces (Limpopo, Northern Cape, and Gauteng). The program currently has a total of 205 participants: 123 (Limpopo), 48 (Gauteng) and 34 (Northern Cape).
2021 Trailblazer Model
We have maintained our community-based Trailblazer Model, pioneered in 2020. In this model we train local young adults to be Trailblazer Champions, who are responsible for facilitating the direct delivery of the training curriculum to Trailblazer Participants as well as providing ongoing in-person support for Community Action Project implementation. The Trailblazer Champions are equipped with the essential resources to run virtual engagement (laptop, projector etc.). The Trailblazers are split into community chapters of 30-100 Trailblazer each, based on location, which are then connected virtually through a national WhatsApp group and inter-province buddy system. The Trailblazers are brought together for training in-person (following COVID-19 strict protocols) for additional training and engagement with national virtual events. In 2021, we have 5 Trailblazer Chapters – Mphengwa (Limpopo), Makgabeng (Limpopo), Mamelodi (Gauteng), Dobsonville (Gauteng), and De Aar (Northern Cape).
Trailblazers Experience Blended Learning
At the Trailblazer Skills Workshops (run virtually in 2021), Trailblazers are introduced to the Program, equipped with power skills through our Self, Others, Context curriculum, and design their Community Action Projects to help address some of the social issues they are passionate about in their communities.
We then held our first in-person Trailblazer workshop on 28 August, where Trailblazers connected with each other in their Chapters, engaged in discussion and leadership activities and refined that Community Action Projects designs for implementation. This was capped with the Trailblazer CAP Launching Ceremony that marks the “official” start of Trailblazer community action project work. At the ceremony, Trailblazer officially receive their Trailblazer T-shirt which symbolizes their commitment to the program, their leadership development and being change makers in their communities.
In September, we held our second in-person workshop, which included a virtual speaker event with keynote speaker Dr Natalie Raphil (founder of Robots Can Think) and Ntesang Makutu (Sol Plaatje Univerity SRC President and co-founder of Eyethu Pop-Up Library). Each Chapter was able to connect virtually on Zoom and engage with the speakers. The theme of the speaker event was “Rising Above Adversity” as a way to motivate and encourage Trailblazer to think positively about their lives and commit to making their future better.
Now Trailblazers are busy implementing their Community Action Projects, supported by their Champions.