Youth Advocacy Festival Comes to UP

Posted on March 13, 2023


The Humanities Faculty in collaboration with Engage South Africa and with support from the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, hosted the Youth Advocacy Festival on the 17 and 18 February 2023. The Festival took place at the Javett-UP Art Centre and on UP’s Hatfield Campus. The Youth Advocacy Festival aimed to provide an active and engaging platform for youth leaders, high school students, civil society organisations and educational institutions to interact, encourage leadership and advocacy skills, and to be inspired to actively shape an improved South Africa.


Engage South Africa is a civil society organisation that provides leadership and civic education programmes as well as workshops to high school students and other youths. Engage SA helps young South Africans learn essential skills by providing a platform for them to become more active in their communities and South Africa as a whole.


The Festival’s activities began with a few opening remarks by the High Commissioner of Canada, Chris Cooter, which was followed by a combination of workshops, information stalls, activities and dialogues for participants to explore and engage.


The Festival’s activities included:  


An Inspiration Lane:

This was exhibited in the Boukunde building on UP’s main campus where the Festival’s participants could walk through and read testimonies of youth leaders. These testimonies were presented through text, video and photography and outlined the journeys of these youth leaders both nationally as well as internationally.


Workshop Alley:

Workshops were held by a number of civil society organisations and took place in four locations on the Hatfield Campus as well as in the Javett Art Centre. Participating organisations included: Section 27, Activate, Rivonia Circle, Legal Resource Centre, Voice of the People of Movement, Agape Youth Movement, Youth Lab, Corruption Watch, African Leadership Academy, Global Shapers, Helen Suzman Foundation, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, nni dialogue, Open Up and Just Leaders Program UP.


The workshops focused on a wide range of topics, and introduced participants to the principles of advocacy, sexual & reproductive rights, social justice & Allyship, policy writing and ethical leadership.


Civic Market:

The Civic Market provided civil society organisations with an opportunity to exhibit their work and to engage and interact with the Festival’s participants. The Civic Market included the organisations mentioned above, as well as, Codebridge Youth, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Lesedi La Batho, UNICEF South Africa and the YMCA.


Dialogue District:

This was held in the Link Gallery and offered a venue for participants to join facilitated discussions on a range of topics.


Entrepreneur Avenue:

The avenue offered young entrepreneurs and local businesses an opportunity to advertise their products and services, display their businesses and share their entrepreneurial journey with the Festival’s participants. Entrepreneur Avenue was held in the courtyard next to the Link Gallery. Entrepreneurs that showcased their businesses at the Civic Market include: Ngxalaba Entreprise, Kasi Fusion, True Jays, Vibes Emoji Cartoons, Lotsha Onaka, Toca Essentials, Hyades Cleaning, Ellipsis Art, Tosh Detergents, CxRe brand clothing, Art Flava Gallery, NAKAR Barbershop, Mosetsana Pads, Prudy Fragrances, Ekhayalemfundo Matric Upgrade, The Handyman Bakery, PEX, Valashian_Empire, Scissors Hair Studio, Luthandos Connect, Pride Handcrafts, and Chivite Panel Beat and Respray


Commitment Wall:

Held in the Creative Space of the Javett Art Centre, the commitment wall allowed participants to reflect and consider on the Festival’s events before committing themselves to becoming an active youth leader.


UP Campus Tours:

Participant groups were also taken on hour long tours of UP’s Hatfield Campus by UP Campus Tours. The tours offered participants a look at the campus and allowed them the chance to familiarise themselves with key aspects of university life.




- Author Robyn Schnell

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