Author

About the Author
Jarred Thompson is a recent English graduate from Alabama State University. He currently resides in Johannesburg South Africa where he is looking to do his Masters in Creative Writing in 2017. Jarred is a poet, writer, blogger, fitness fanatic and film buff.

South Africa Start Up Profile: 7 Steps- The Company That Brings Art To Cape Flats

The 7 Steps Hub Initiative is an innovative idea started by founder Clint White in his efforts to bring art and creativity to the disadvantaged of youth living on the Cape Flats.

I met up with Clint White to discuss the initiative, its goals and vision and what local and international organizations and individuals can do to get involved and make a difference.

RISE NEWS: 1. Can you give us an idea of your background and what lead to the idea of starting the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: I’m a creative enthusiast, entrepreneur, brand strategist, creative director and business speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to be active in many creative roles, from brand manager, stylist, writer, creative director, art director, stage director, workshop host, panellist and even a voice over artist. I’m quite a lively and determined person, always wanting to source information and to do things differently. It’s how I’m inspired to be innovative in everything I do.

Living on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, I have a first-hand experience on what life is like here, the reality and prevalence of drug abuse, despair and violence suffered by our youth. This has forged a wedge between people, and the effects are disastrous. We’ve been left with a nation of uninspired youth, within disconnected communities, with little hope, so I thought that there must be an opportunity to change it.

RISE NEWS: 2. Why do you think that art specifically is a tool to change mind sets and instil a sense of self-confidence in the youth living on the Cape Flats?

Clint White: Coming from a creative background myself, I believe that art has the ability to heal people from an intrinsic perspective, which can quite literally change an individual’s thinking.

I think we should re-introduce art in our public education system, as it’s seen as an exclusive privilege at best.

There is little understanding of art in our communities and this creates a hindrance in pursuing a creative career or appreciation of the discipline.

We need to realise that the ability to think creatively and to come up with ideas, contributes to every industry the world over, from fashion, engineering, science, technology, music, media, architecture, design and even education; they all require creativity.

Founder Clint White (R) receiving an award from Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.

You can pour your emotions, desires, fears, aspirations and viewpoints into whatever artwork you create, and learn new skills in the process. Art allows people to think differently in a way that we apply creative interpretations of how we experience the world around us and how we contribute to it.

RISE NEWS: 3. Has art been a force in your life and how has it changed or created a shift in mindset for you?

Clint White: Art is merely the mechanism or framework for innovation. I’m someone who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life, which I use to my advantage.

It [art] is about learning from past experiences and challenging myself to create new things, experiences and ideas; that’s where the innovation lies. I’m always researching new ideas, seeing what’s been done before and how we can make things better, to disrupt and to innovate. It’s what drives me.

RISE NEWS: 4. What do you intend to do with the art pieces that the kids create through the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: Through our workshops, we intend on placing the art in the schools to encourage an appreciation and curiosity in art.

We expect that this will mitigate bullying as well, in the hopes that other youth will be interested in joining our programmes. The contributions the youth will make and the skills that they will learn will cultivate a sense of ownership which can be applied to other spheres of their lives too.

Through active support of funders and the public we hope to provide employment, entrepreneurship ideals and career development opportunities as well once the youth complete their schooling and perfect their skills through the art they create.

RISE NEWS: 5. Can you elaborate more on the community projects that 7 Steps Hub is starting up with students from Wynberg and Athlone?

Clint White: We wish to integrate the thinking at a community level into community development projects, not specifically only Wynberg and Athlone, but all communities.

We first want the learners to adopt a sense of ownership of their school, and then tackle their communities where they live.

We want the youth to visualise their communities as places of interest and inspiration. Through community clean ups, revamps, and art installations in these areas, we want to beautify them and bring the spirit of community back into where we live.

RISE NEWS: 6. Tell us more about the WaydesWelcome Journey and how that has influenced you moving forward with the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: When I decided to walk around Cape Town collecting messages of support and congratulations for Olympic World Champion, Wayde Van Niekerk, I had no clue how the idea would take off. The campaign trended nationally within three days, and featured on every major media platform in the country, from radio interviews, TV appearances and newspaper articles. I met every person who signed the book.

I captured the journey on social media and garnered hundreds of thousands of impressions and people following the story each day.

It took me two months and 400 kilometres on foot, meeting hundreds of every day citizens and celebrities, from David Kramer, Evita Bezuidenhout, Mpho Tutu Van Furth and many more, to being invited by different companies, organisations, schools and people, it was incredible.

When he [Wayde Van Niekerk] arrived back in the country, I was fortunate enough to be invited by T-Systems to attend a gala dinner in Wayde’s honour as a special guest.

I had the opportunity to have dinner with Wayde, met his family and made a speech, before finally handing the book over.

It inspired me that we as a nation can come together for a greater good. I was incredibly inspired that through my idea, I could unite the entire nation.

All we need is a little inspiration, to do great things. As South Africans, we are kind hearted and genuine, it was refreshing to experience first-hand.

RISE NEWS: 7. What are your goals for the 2017 year and how can businesses and individuals get involved in such an initiative?

Clint White: Our goal for 2017 is to inspire the youth and build partnerships and relationships in realising its success.

We’re busy planning a 7 Steps Hub Creative Expo, showcasing the innovation and creativity from our programmes, as well as artistic contributions from individuals in Cape Town.

As we are a non-profit organisation, the challenges we face are funding, and the need for resources in our continued endeavours in changing lives.

We want youth, private business, parents, government and ordinary citizens to make a concerted effort in supporting our organisation in any way they can.

We have a list of resources and funding objectives available which anyone can contribute towards.

We need people to support our social media platforms and spread the word about our initiative.

We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign too, for people to assist 7 Steps Hub. It’s important that we realise the need to take the step and build our future, together.


Follow this creative initiative on these social media platforms for more information on how to get involved and support the 7 Steps Hub Initiative:

Email: 7stepshub@gmail.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/7StepsHub

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

“What Do You Live For?” Series: An American Educated South African Answers That Question In A Poem

For?

For the morning drizzle outside
cuddled with a lover
or the sweat on my brow
while I lift boulders.

For the smell of spices from a cast iron orange pot
or the lingering taste of fermented grapes
in the lull of a Thursday evening.

For the black man who waves
at a white baby
or the queer who helps the straight guy sow.

For the corrupt politicians finally serving their sentences
or the homeless woman finally getting a fresh slice of bread.

For the aborted children giving meaning to life,
or the orphans succeeding despite hardship and strife.

For music
for pain
for love
for art.
For the swing in my hips
when the strobe lights flash and the
music vibrates my ribcage.

For the conversations that last all night
or the eye contact with a stranger that lingers for weeks.

For discoveries revealing us to be insects
to Gods,
or the majestic Cathedrals
DEMANDING REVERANCE
(Its own type of gift.)

For humanity’s love
(which needs explaining)
and the fault lines of the heart
causing families to slip between tectonic plates.

For tragedy
for birth
for death
for utter chaos:
reminding us that we’re riders of this rock
with fists plunged deep into moist soul
we cultivate, we reap, we straddle
riding this beast till all is eventually
forgot.

Read More: Everyone Should Read This Incredibly Powerful Poem A Man Wrote To His Transgender Sister

Read More: “Peace”:A Powerful Poem About Police Violence

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Meet Eddie Ndopu: The First Disabled African To Attend Oxford University

Eddie Ndopu, a 25 year old South African, is set to become the first disabled African to attend the prestigious Oxford University.

Eddie has his eyes set on Oxford where he plans to revolutionize the lives of disabled people around the world.

I had the privilege of interviewing this out-of-the-box thinker on his journey so far and his plans to revolutionize the world for disabled people.

RISE NEWS: A lot of people see you as the first disabled African to go to Oxford, so how do you feel about being labelled as that person?

Eddie: First, I think it is a symbolic victory for a young, disabled African as well as disabled people throughout the world.

It’s symbolic because statistically there is about 90 ninety percent of children with disabilities across the developing world who have no access to basic education.

So it’s an amazing personal achievement as well as an achievement for disabled people all over the world.

The second perspective I don’t like to subscribe to labels. I choose to move through the world as a dynamic and fluid individual so that I am not tied to any stereotypes or preconceptions that the world may have about me.

RISE: What will you be studying when you go to Oxford?

I will be doing a Master’s degree in Public Policy.

RISE: So what are you looking to gain from your Oxford experience?

I am trying to lay the foundation for an ambitious organization that I have founded with a friend. We are calling it the Evolve Initiative we are trying to help people with disabilities live their best lives. In short, we are trying to provide the institutional support to disabled people so that they can have the same opportunities as able-bodied individuals.

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RISE: What are your plans for after you graduate from Oxford?

After Oxford I’ll spend two years trying to get people to understand what the Evolve Initiative is about. That will take the form of this kind of “Beyonce-esque” feature length presentation.

At the end of the presentation I hope to be launching into space as the first disabled person to ever be in space. I also want to address the United Nations from space about the rights of disabled people globally.

RISE: How has the public supported you in achieving this goal of going to Oxford?

The public has been quite amazing and very supportive. People have been very generous giving whatever they had whether it was R500 or R2000 rand. I did expect more support from Corporate South Africa but a lot of the time people want to be associated with you because you making headlines. Yet they aren’t prepared to put their money where their mouth is.

RISE: Are there any things that worry you about leaving South Africa and going to study at Oxford?

No, not really because it’s not my first time abroad. I did my undergraduate in Canada and so I left for four years and it was an incredible experience. I see myself as a global citizen. I am an African of the world. I like to keep moving so I am not anxious at all.

READ MORE: Can This Young South African Change The Way The World Looks At Farming?

RISE: How do you deal with being disabled and queer? Are there challenges?

For me I always say that there is no contradiction in embodying all of these identities. I cannot compartmentalize my identity. When I am doing disability activism I am also doing queer activism and antiracist work. Everybody is not just one thing we embody so many identities at once. I make sure that I am able to always speak about my identities in a nuanced way.

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RISE: Could you talk to me a bit more about your ideas surrounding independence versus dependence as well as what it means to be a abled-bodied adult in our society?

For me as a young 25 year-old man I find that people will forever treat you like a child. People always talk down to you when you are disabled. I have realized that with the experience of disability, adulthood becomes hard to navigate.

When we think about what it means to be an adult its always about doing things for yourself. So the societal conception of being an adult does not fit with the experience of a disabled adult who relies on other adults for their survival. People only see a basic surface level of what it means to be independent.

I reject independence because I don’t think it’s real.

Able-bodied people get help all the time, but as I said in the my YouTube video the help that they get disappears into the background and it makes it look like independence. The world is constructed around the needs of your able-bodied experience and because of that you are being helped on an institutional level.

RISE: I heard you say that you want people to see disabled people as gifts to humanity. Could you explain that a bit more?

It comes from the deep recognition that changes happen on the margins of society. Marginalized people are the most innovative people because they need to figure out creative ways of surviving.

So because disabled people are one of the most marginalized groups in society we are able to challenge the status quo and reimagine a world that opens up equal opportunities for all people. If you can address the needs of people with disabilities you can change the world because every part of society will be different from the way we design our environments to the way we relate to each other as human beings.

Eddie is set to begin his Masters in September of 2016.

Calling Young South African Writers, Journalists And Leaders: Tell Your Story And Make A Difference

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Photo Credits: Eddie Ndopu/ Submitted

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