Challenge Accepted was born one afternoon when four Allan Gray Scholars, Saadiq Brey, Tayla Anthony, Quratul-Ain Parker and Rebecca Plaatjies, sat discussing the impact the Scholarship Programme was having on their lives. In that moment the comparison between their enriched experience and that of their peers seemed worlds apart. “We were deeply troubled by the general lack of motivation, leadership skills and innovative thinking in other young South Africans,” says Saadiq. Perhaps even more troubling was the fact that these young people would be responsible for the country’s future.
They soon set to work to design a fresh, fun and youthful way of passing on the skills and knowledge they had attained as Allan Gray Scholars. The result was a for-the-youth, by-the-youth training programme set to transform South Africa through entrepreneurship and youth leadership. Challenge Accepted equips participating youths, called Challenge Acceptors, with the necessary skills and confidence to take on leadership roles. Consisting of two sessions, the day-long programme guides participants through a process of evaluating some of today’s leading global innovators before evaluating themselves and challenging them to think innovatively.
The first session in the programme zeroes in on the Challenge Acceptors’ inner worlds. They are tasked with completing a personal mind map to identify key aspects of themselves. They also learn to distinguish between their passions and interests, learn how to abandon negative mindsets and adopt positive ones as well as how to establish a good self-image. Lastly, they learn a thing or two about time management by tabulating a daily planner.
The second session is more practical and comprises two challenges. In Challenge One the participants team up in groups of five and reconstruct a disassembled solar charger. They must then work and deliver a one-minute elevator pitch about their charger. In this challenge participants learn to work in teams and communicate effectively. Challenge Two sees participants coming up with a futuristic product or programme in the fields of science, technology, medicine or education. Out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged to forge participants’ innovative thinking mindsets and their presentation skills are practised again when presenting their ideas to the group. This challenge teaches participants about being professional when delivering presentations as well as giving and receiving constructive criticism.
Challenge Accepted is aimed at learners in Grade six and seven but is open to anyone younger than 18. As Grade 10 and 11 learners themselves, Saadiq, Tayla, Quratul-Ain and Rebecca know what it’s like to be young South Africans. They drew a lot on their own experiences – the hardships and self-moulding they had gone through – when designing the programme. They also based it very loosely on Donald Trump’s TV game show, The Apprentice. However, they confess that Challenge Accepted, ultimately, aims to live up to the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s vision:
In the coming years there will emerge from diverse communities, a new generation of high-impact, responsible entrepreneurs. Individuals of passion, integrity and innovation who will be at the forefront of the continuing economic and social transformation of this region. These individuals will be ambassadors of the power of initiative, determination and excellence, acting as role models so that many more will follow in their pioneering footsteps.
“Ever since the beginning of our time on the Scholarship we have had a strong yearning to make our mark on this world and attempt to bring about significant change in South Africa,” explains Saadiq. Being Scholars had so changed their perspective on life that they could not help but accept the challenge of taking some pioneering footsteps.
The Challenge Accepted team sees the programme as only a first phase of their plan to unify, across Cape Town, youths who are equally passionate about contributing positively to the social and economic development in South Africa.