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Trailblazer Program

The enke: Trailblazer Program inspires and supports high school youth to create and lead meaningful change in their communities.

About Trailblazer

The enke: Trailblazer Program inspires and supports Grade 8-11 high school youth to create and lead meaningful change in their communities. Participants receive training and support to design and run projects to address the social issues they feel passionate about. Through this experience, participants increase their grit, social responsibility, self-efficacy and social capital, while gaining practical experience in project management and leadership.

Through the Trailblazer Program, we introduce high school students to other like-minded, passionate and enthusiastic young people. Participants learn skills that will help them achieve their dreams and use these skills to design and run a project in their community. Participants walk away from the experience having made an impact on their communities and inspired to continue to make change happen. This is a national program that encourages participation from youth from every province in South Africa and beyond. We have had youth from as far as Windhoek, Namibia and Nairobi, Kenya, participate in the Program!

How Trailblazer Works

Trailblazer: a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular.

The program has 3 key components: Training, Action and Recognition*:

  1. Training @ the enke: Trailblazer Launch Workshops – The Trailblazer Program kicks off with 5 days of introductory training in community-based workshops. Content covers personal leadership development and a guided process through which each participant develops a Community Action Project (CAP) to address a social issue.  In addition, this is accomplished through youth-to-youth program delivery, inspirational guest speakers and individual feedback.
  2. Community Action & Support – The Community Action Project (CAP) each participant designs at the Forum is the main focus of the program. A CAP is totally designed, owned and executed by the participant, and they carry it out over the 9 months of the program, in any community they choose, addressing a social challenge they face, with whatever creative idea they come up with.
  3. Recognition – The enke: Trailblazer Program concludes with a one-day celebration event where participants can reconnect with their peers, reflect on their experience and be recognised for their effort.  Trailblazers also receive letters and certificates of recognition and completion for their work.
 *NOTE: In 2020, due to COVID-19, there have been changes made to how the key components and activities are run for the 2020-21 enke: Trailblazer Program. Click Here to find out more about these changes and other measures that enke has taken in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (https://enke.co.za/about/enke-covid-19-response/)
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Benefit to Communities

Creating real, positive change is how young people can make their mark. Using skills they learn in training, participants will be able to take action on the issues they feel passionately about and have real impact on a social issue and create a better future for South Africa. Young people don’t have to just sit back and inherit the world – we can actually be part of creating it. All too often we hear about “future” leaders – but at enke, we believe that youth can be leaders right now.

Examples of Trailblazer Community Action Projects (CAP):

  • In 2009, Maja and TK started an Each-One-Teach-One peer tutoring project at their school that contributed to increasing their Grade 11 pass rate from 67% to 90% in a 6-month period – Read TK and Maja’s Story of Impact
  • In 2015, Lwazi implemented a project to improve educational outcomes in his school. He built a team of peers with whom he ran homework classes for those struggling with school work and worked with their school management and the local government to bring their school library back to life – Read Lwazi’s Story of Impact
  • For her 2016 Trailblazer CAP, Chenoa started the “Cuddle Angels” project, collecting thousands of teddy bears and toys to donate to orphanages and homes in Durban and Johannesburg – Read Chenoa’s Story of Impact

The snapshots above are just a few examples of the over 1,000 social impact and enterprise projects run by high school learners through the enke: Trailblazer Program.

Benefit to Youth

Participants learn skills that they can use in other parts of their lives; at school, when applying for a job, or for university and generally in the future. Also, if they can talk about what they learned as they ran (or tried to run!) a project then it will look good on CVs and in job or scholarship and bursary interviews. By designing and running their own Community Aation Project participants develop practical skills (planning, problem solving, resource management, resource mobilisation, team management) and non-cognitive skills (grit, social awareness, self-efficacy).

The Program has long-term positive effect on the future of Trailblazers. In 2014 we conducted research on our alumni (past participants), which showed:

  • Those who complete a community social action project are more likely to show higher levels of ‘soft’ skills, practical project skills and social support.
  • Rates of further education and employment were higher in enke alumni when compared to national averages.
  • Those who began a social action project (regardless of finishing it) are approximately three times more likely to be engaged in volunteering or self-directed social entrepreneurial efforts.
  • It doesn’t end there! Program Participants have gone on to leverage their experience to receive scholarships, bursaries, awards, and recognition such as in the M&G 200 Young South Africans or enter prestigious programs such as African Leadership Academy.

Participants in our Programs go on to join our Alumni Network, accessing opportunities and support on an ongoing basis from enke: Make Your Mark.