Kate worked for Coaching for Conservation in Grahamstown from 2013- 2016 as a program facilitator.
Here she writes a touching account of her journey with C4C.
My C4C Journey:
In 2013, I returned home after 16 months of teaching abroad in Hong Kong. Having lived in a consumer country, I felt a deep desire to make a difference in my community when it came to the reduction of illegal wildlife trade and conservation education. Desperately looking for a job, I stumbled across an advert for an educator position at Coaching for Conservation. I decided to do a bit of research about the program and the more I read the more I realized that this was my DREAM JOB! Sport, children, wildlife and conservation- four things that I was passionate about. The pressure was on, opportunities like this did not come around often. During my interview, I was so nervous, my palms were sweating and my heart was racing a thousand beats per minute. A couple days later, which felt like an eternity, I got the call to say that I had got the job- HOORAY!
At first I was unsure as to how this would work- first we ‘Meet’ the animal, then we ‘Be’ the animal and then we ‘Help’ the animal? After the training weekend, everything began to make more sense. ‘Meeting’ the animal was when we would learn about the animal and it’s characteristics that make it successful in the wild. ‘Being’ the animal was when we would embody the animal on the soccer field (eg: use our speed like the cheetah, be fit, fast and agile). ‘Helping’ the animal was when we would play a conservation game teaching us about the challenges that these animals are facing (eg: cheetahs being killed by farmers) and have to work together to come up with a solution.
In 2013, the pilot program rolled out in the Eastern Cape- reaching 350 children. Seeing the excitement on these children’s faces arriving for their lessons was something I will never forget. They were eager to get to C4C, learn about their animal coach for the day and embody him on the soccer field. Reflecting back, in my post survey when asked the question what did you personally learn/gain from Coaching for Conservation/Investec Rhino Lifeline? I wrote the following: “I feel truly inspired by the children that took part in the program. The questions, attitudes and confidence that erupted were incredible. I learned that it is crucial to inspire kids to make a change/difference in the world that we live in”.
In the last four years, so much has happened. These are a few of my personal highlights: creating the new Rhino RAP (Rapid Awareness Program) which has allowed us to reach many more children by creating this mobile program; taking the entire South African coaching team to Maun, Botswana for the C4C Annual Camp in 2015- this was very special, seeing most of our coaches experiencing another country and culture as well as getting to fly on an aeroplane for the very first time; being shortlisted for two Beyond Sports Awards in 2014 (Sport for the Environment Award and the JHB Impact Award) and meeting and networking with people who are doing incredible things around the world through sport; celebrating World Environment Day at the Investec offices in JHB and doing a Rhino Run through Sandton; lastly our biggest achievement to date- reaching over 3000 children in 2016 with our various programs. C4C has grown from strength to strength and I am confident that there are even greater things to come.
None of these achievements could have been possible without the help of the C4C Coaching Team. TEAM-Together Everybody Achieves More! I am so fortunate to have had such a passionate and dedicated team. No task was ever too big and the best thing is that nobody ever said ‘it’s not my job!’ Everybody worked together with the same goal in mind; it was our responsibility to INSPIRE KIDS TO CARE….and together, that’s what we did.
What a journey it has been, the people I have met, the children I have inspired (and who have inspired me) and the C4C family that motivated me to do more and be more. Here’s to many more years of success!