During the past 7 years the SA Bachelor & Bachelorette competition raised awareness, products and services; and funds in excess of R750 000 for various charities. NGO’s supported thus far include: Jacaranda and Louis Botha Children’s Homes, Berg-en-Dal, Foodbank SA, Amadea Safe house, Cansa and their TLC Homes and CHOC.
Our focus has and will always remain on children and the youth. If we want our kids to be equipped to make their world a better place by the time they’re adults, we have lots of opportunities to help them get started at a young age.
In 2016 COPPERSTONE launched its very own charity initiative, the TALK Initiative, promoting Tolerance, Appreciation, Literacy and Kindness to children and the youth in disadvantaged communities. Most parents want to raise children who are appreciative of what they have, are responsible for their behaviour, have a healthy perspective on material possessions, and are generous, kind and tolerant of others. Nowadays, bringing up children who feel grateful for – rather than entitled to – what they have, is a challenge.
We want the next generation to be happy and to achieve greatness. But that is much easier said than done. With good intentions we help them by setting goals such as getting an education, finding a good job and excelling in all they do, but we neglect the process of how those things are accomplished. These are not simple tasks, and the necessary values and skill sets for achieving them must be developed. Tolerance, appreciation, literacy and kindness represent some of the core values, attitudes and skills you need in order to excel at anything.
To bring about change, we will continue to support and focus on the following areas:
1 No Bullying Campaign
Our no-bullying campaign for this year is titled: “Little Bullies Become Big Bullies”. Children as young as age 3 can and do participate in bullying. We often see the emergence of bullying in early childhood settings, such as day-care, preschool, home-care groups and play groups. If bullying in the early years is overlooked or not stopped, young children who bully will continue to bully as they get older, and children who are victimised will continue to suffer. In fact, bullying may spread as other children see opportunities to engage in bullying. If left unchecked and not dealt with correctly, patterns of bullying and victimisation will persist into adolescence and even adulthood, often resulting in abusive teen dating relationships, and even teen suicide, sexual and gender based violence and other criminal activities.
When the TALK Initiative was created, one of our aims was to focus on no-bullying. Although every little bit helps, we didn’t want to be an anti-bullying project focusing on what kids can’t do and say. We wanted to start a campaign to not only highlight a better understanding of bullying, but also to find creative ways of dealing with the bully and the child being targeted, by incorporating the four pillars of the TALK Initiative to nurture compassion and empathy in the bully and the victim.
Bullying involves an imbalance of power and includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. The truth is that bullies are not born into this world. Bullies are raised. Bullying, at its core, is a learned behaviour that is often used in response to stress. Bullying is an attempt to gain superiority or control over another.
Each time a bully gets away with his act, he is encouraged to do it again. This is especially true if the bully gains respect as a leader, or gains an object or reward for his bullying. This is an example of conditioning. The more often the bully succeeds the more likely he is to repeat his bully behaviour.
Many people think that bullies are either insecure or have low self-esteem. Recent research shows that some bullies may fit this description, but many bullies have high self-esteem. The bully leads via intimidation. People tend to follow to avoid being victimised. Bully leaders are often admired because of a superior trait. Some bullies are very attractive, some are very athletic, and some are very social. Bullies gain power and therefore respect in many ways. Sometimes adults give power to a leader, who then may abuse it and bully others. For example, a coach may give the captain tremendous power, allowing him to humiliate younger teammates. Bullies gain power by the amount of followers. The more that follow the more power he has to yield.
Bullying and Cyber-bullying can be difficult, especially when it’s happening to you. Sometimes it’s the most painful thing that can ever happen. But it’s NEVER worth taking your life. Suicide is NEVER the answer. It is permanent – you can’t take it back, it hurts the people who love you, and it doesn’t solve the problem that’s hurting you. What could hurt so bad that you would even think of suicide has a solution? You always have choices and it’s all about the choices you make, for yourself or your decision to help a friend.
2 United against cancer
Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. A recent study published by medical journal Lancet predicts that South Africa could see an increase of 78% in the number of cancer cases by 2030. From a global perspective, a 75% increase is expected, increasing the total incidence of all new cancer-cases from 12.7 million in 2008 to 22.2 million by 2030.
As always we will continue supporting childhood cancer awareness. In South Africa, less than half of the children affected are diagnosed at an early stage and reach a treatment center in time. Many are diagnosed at an advanced stage of cancer with poorer treatment outcomes and almost half are never diagnosed and so do not receive any treatment. We are committed to childhood cancer support and awareness and believe ill children need and deserve as happy and normal a childhood as possible. This year our cancer awareness charity of choice is CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa.
In 2014 COPPERSTONE started the HOPE Shoot, a project we are very proud of. Our aim is to uplift and boost the spirits of ladies who have survived breast cancer. Once a year we invite a few very deserving ladies, to honour them and spoil them to a weekend away including a beauty make-over and a professional photo-shoot, celebrating their beauty and strength. They also do a video-shoot where they in return share their stories to inspire people currently battling the illness.
All the ladies at the HOPE Shoot always have the same advice: get tested! Regularly. Studies have found that a woman diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer has an 88% chance of cure. Diagnosed at Stage IV, the survival rate dramatically decreases with only 15% of those diagnosed surviving for more than 5 years. Regular self-examination and mammograms play a key role in the early detection of breast cancer and high risk female consumers who have a positive family history for example, should essentially undergo the procedure once a year.
We will always support the fight against cancer. For us cancer is a word, not a sentence.
3 Literacy Project
In South Africa 32% of the adult population may be regarded as functionally illiterate and therefore the functional literacy rate amongst the adult population is estimated at 68%. Reading is a foundational skill. Imagine not being able to read your science textbook or math word problems as a young third grader in a class of 60 students. Despite having inherently good analytical skills and even being able to solve math problems in your head, without knowing how to read the questions on the test or the homework from your textbook, the likelihood of you succeeding in that class is very low.
The Department of Basic Education’s figures, show that 1,100,877 learners enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014, but only 610,178 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2016 – showing an alarming rate of 44.6% of learners either dropping out of the system altogether or remaining stuck in Grade 10 and 11. Nearly a quarter (23.5%) of learners cited a lack of money as the main reason for not attending an educational institution while 17.7% reportedly fell out due to poor academic performance. This is due to weak learning throughout the system but particularly in the early years which will disadvantage them in secondary school.
Since 2016 through COPPERSTONE’s TALK Initiative, we started to collect books and distribute them in communities and amongst NGO’s where we identified a need for it. More than 2 500 new or slightly used books has been distributed during the past 2 years. Our economy is enhanced when learners have higher literacy levels. Effective literacy skills can or will open the doors to more educational and employment opportunities to enable people to overcome poverty and chronic underemployment.
In our increasingly complex and rapidly changing technological world, it is essential that individuals continuously expand their knowledge and learn new skills in order to keep up with the pace of change.
4 Kindness Campaign
The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. A little bit of kindness can change someone’s life forever.
Phrases like “random acts of kindness” and “pay it forward” have become popular terms in modern society. This could perhaps be best explained by those who have identified a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism. It seems there are good reasons why we can’t get enough of those addictive, feel-good emotions, as scientific studies prove there are many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits associated with kindness. Kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it. Our aim is to assist in creating a more kind and gracious nation through our TALK Initiative, by teaching kids the importance of being kind.
Children who engage in random acts of kindness experience bigger increases in peer acceptance than children who don’t practice random acts of kindness. Pro-sociality not only improves children’s personal well-being, but also positively affects their perceptions of those around them. Furthermore, studies found that volunteering once a week for 10 weeks significantly reduces the risk for heart disease and increased levels of empathy among a sample of adolescents. Children as young as two years old have a propensity towards altruism and will naturally help out strangers, even when no reward is involved.
The truth is that children are born to be altruistic givers. But somewhere between birth and 4th grade, they are socialised to think more about themselves than others. Simply wishing to be kind, or telling our children to do so, won’t necessarily make us caring or compassionate. But if we develop and cultivate the conditions for compassion, it will arise and deepen naturally.
5 Upliftment of children in disadvantaged communities
The South African homeless population has been estimated at approximately 200,000. About 63% of young South African children live in poverty, which can affect their physical, cognitive and emotional development. Having access to the basic needs, including shelter, food, and clothing is necessary to the development of a strong community,
By providing food parcels, clothing or toiletries, or handing out gifts and snacks might just be the only good deed many kids will ever experience from strangers. Through the TALK Initiative, we are always looking for ways to create sustainability of projects in these communities. While we’ve seen many charities aiming for sustainability, we are yet to see any that can demonstrate both future plans and past success in this area. Sustainability is hard to come by. But sustainable projects do exist. Our aim will always be the transfer of skills. For adults skills such as carpentry, building and plumbing can have a major impact on that community. For kids learning essential skills like tolerance and appreciation, can result in a healthy future not only for the kids but for society as a whole.
Tolerance and appreciation are some of the core values, attitudes and skills you need in order to excel at anything. Tolerance means respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. Tolerance, in many ways, is the opposite of prejudice. Why encourage tolerance in our kids? To start with, we want our kids to feel relaxed and open to learning from different cultures. They bring new ideas, experiences and energy to our lives. Our kids can potentially learn a great deal from other cultures. If willing, tolerance opens doors in business, education, travel, leisure, lifestyle, art plus other areas of life.
It is very difficult to be thankful for what you have if you don’t even have the basics. Recent studies however show that appreciation not only can be deliberately cultivated but can also increase levels of well-being and happiness among those who cultivate it. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy. Regardless of what we have and what we don’t have, sometimes feelings of gratitude happen spontaneously. But we can also create feelings of gratitude by deliberately counting our blessings. You can build a habit of counting blessings just by paying attention each day to things you’re glad to have in your life.
In a world of so much diversity, we need to learn and understand different cultures, sexual orientations and religions around us. Those are the things that make up who we are. By celebrating and learning about each other’s beliefs, we can more fully understand their motives, their thoughts and can love them more fully. There are wonderful people and traditions throughout the world that make the world a beautiful place.