The YLED journey can be seen as a journey travelled by athletes in a marathon, where young talented and gifted young people travel a journey of champions; a journey of hardships, lessons and that of winning. Just like in a marathon where the athletes are chosen by the mere fact that they know how to run, they know what it takes to be a champion and where the organizers of the marathon, ensures that they accept talented individuals to run the marathon. This too, is expected at Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development (YLED), that in order to qualify to be part of the programme, you need to be willing to be taught, to be trained and to be developed as a young leader in any space which you may see fit. Hence the recruitment process is typically a tough one, whereby at least 400 applications are drawn in per year and only 60 – 70 young people are accepted to be part of the programme.
Just like athletes in a marathon, it is expected that some might have more experience, some might have won the marathon before and for some, it is literally their first time being part of a marathon, and this then becomes this beautiful exciting journey which all these different people travel and herein, great lessons are learnt. Henceforth, because of the nature in which we recruit our talented young people, the same 3 categories of individuals still apply in this regard. Where experience has taught us that those who come from private schools are those who may have typically experienced similar programmes to YLED and yes, some of them, may have won in some of those programmes. Secondly those who may have merely experienced this are also those type of young people, who are in the range between public to semi-private schools, and these type of young people are those who may have been fortunate enough to have a sense of such programmes or might have heard of the programme. Lastly the beginners of the journey in this instance are those that come from the township schools, where yes they may have been talented. But because of the manner in which such programmes operate, most of these talented diamond in the rough types of learners, would have not obtained this incredible opportunity to join in the marathon and be nurtured and developed to be exceptional young leaders.
With any marathon ran, there will be challenges, were some of the individuals who may have been accepted to run the marathon, feel that they are not fit enough anymore, where some of them might faint or face any other challenge across the race. Thus in relation to this, YLED does the above in two ways, one you as the young leader, may feel that you are not fit enough or two, the programme itself may believe that through monitored interactions, that you may not be as fit anymore to take part.
Having started the marathon with 66 young people from over 20 high schools in and around Johannesburg, only 50 were able to complete the race despite the challenges they faced from starting, running, managing, and liquidating a profitable business. The life skills they learnt laid a solid foundation that enabled them to work well in teams during the entrepreneurship leg of the programme.
YLED will be graduating and awarding those young leaders or athletes who have stood the test of time, who have travelled the journey which many may not travel and who have been nurtured and developed to become great leaders.
At this point in time, we as an organisation are excited to graduate these type of young people, because we know that there has been sound development which has been put in place for these young people to be exceptional and we only hope that they carry on shining the YLED flag and also take part in nurturing other young minds and developing other leaders in their respective young communities.