And just like that our first Activate Youth Conference is done and dusted and what an incredible 2 days it was…

The inaugural event took place from 14-15 June at Strandfontein High School hall and impacted more than 200 youth.

The event was a great showcase of people with a diversity of gifts living out their passions and purpose in life, living and breathing it ….lives were touched, a light was switched on, activation happened, and people realised that they don’t have to measure themselves to others and that they are perfect for their purpose” – Nigel Savel, 9Miles founder

A special thanks goes to Cllr. Elton Jansen – Ward 43 for partnering with us on this event and for having a heart and passion for youth.

Nigel and Ward 43 Councillor, Elton Jansen

Inspirational speakers

We had some incredible motivational speakers on both days like Nigel Savel (9Miles founder), Thurston Benjamin (Boundless Movement), Dylan Rahman and Joshua Cookson (young entrepreneurs from Blssd Apparel), Keanon Michaels (Keanon’s Kitchen), Rushana Hartnick (Little Mermaids Swim School), Glenda & Danny Jones (Afrika Ablaze), and Isaac Petersen (Mashach Project) who shared stories about how they overcame fear and plugged into their purpose and vision to make their dreams come true.

We were also very blessed by video shoutouts from some amazing household names viz. our friend and international surf sensation who now resides in California, Brandon Benjamin; award-winning singer/songwriter Jimmy Nevis, and Protea cricketer, JP Duminy – who hails from Strandfontein and took time out from his hectic schedule at the Cricket World cup to send us his message! Thanks for the inspirational words guys!

Key takeaways: Sometimes you just have to ask; Don’t be afraid to take the leap, Purpose is your power supply – Pioneers give people permission to do the impossible; Spiritual capital is key; Your background and circumstances do not define what you can achieve, Dream big and visualize your goals; swim against the current.

Spoken word…

We were treated to two stirring poetry performances by Chelsea Firelily from Mitchells Plain and open mic entrant, Lee-Anne Bell from Kraaifontein. A crowd favourite, and 9Miles friend and volunteer, Chelsea performed on both the Friday and Saturday; and Lee-Anne wowed the audience on Friday night with her spiritual spoken word.

Amazing performers

The program was jam-packed with amazing performances by dance crew, 2MinuteNoodles (comprising Caylum Hughes and Kaleb Jephta who recently ranked 4th in the world at the Dancestar competition in Croatia); the incredible Afrika Ablaze Dance company; and a solo from Brandon at Limitless Movement; the very talented drummer girl Chanté Phillips and her band, Lady K Soul (who lives up to her name with soulful vocal renditions of popular songs), Keagan Curtis (our talented and energetic muso friend and creator of the official 9Miles song); Fanatic Records (a young ensemble crew of rappers, MC and vocalist); super saxophonist with the big heart, Christoffel Maneville, and the ever so cool Thomas Lakaesy who had the crowd bopping with his soulful irie beats.

Our MC on Saturday was the hilarious Jean Davids who not only did a comedy routine but also tirelessly kept the crowd entertained and involved for the duration of the day.

MC, Jean Davids

Attendees on both days received refreshments like tea, coffee, snack packs and boerewors rolls sponsored by Councillor Elton Jansen; and our amazing kitchen and hospitality team served everyone with a smile. The ladies also ensured that all the artists and guests in the green room enjoyed delicious platters.

Community Partners & Prizes

An event of this nature is only made possible with the support and assistance of community partners.

Many thanks to our sponsors and partners in Strandfontein who donated items and vouchers as spot prizes which delighted the crowd: El Romé Pizza, Flawless Hair, Nail & Beauty, and Cedric Kanua at James Weave Barber. Thank you to The Orient Events and Hiring Company for assisting us with linenware, the staff at Strandfontein High School for all their logistical support, and to Strandfontein FMC (Facilities Management Committee) for their financial contribution towards the event. Thanks once again to Councillor Jansen for allocating the funds from his Ward budget to impact the youth in our communities. You all put the Proud in #ProudlyStrandfontein

Thank you to our speakers and performers Isaac Petersen (who donated 10 copies of his book “A Plain Story“), Blssd Apparel (for donating 2 clothing items), and to Keagan Curtis for handing out CDs and gifts to the crowd.

A very special thanks also go to our internet partner, Nexus.Net Wired and Wireless for providing free wifi for the event (which allowed us to do online registration, live streaming and offer free wifi to attendees) and Hot Ink Print – our dedicated print partner who printed stickers and declaration cards for the event.

Last, but not least, thank you to Communiversity of South Africa for exhibiting at the event on both days and for sharing more about how they prepare post-secondary students for college entry and the workplace.

Volunteers & team

Dedicated and passionate volunteers are the backbone of any organisation and we were blessed with some amazing people who helped out on this event. Special thanks go to our hospitality team, our ladies on Registration, and to our amazing A/V guys – Claudia and Joel – who kept all our audio/visual requirements running smoothly over the two days. A massive thanks also go to our incredible staff who worked tirelessly to make this event a success.

Sincere thanks also goes to Jamie Swarts of the Compass Trust who was our MC on the Friday night; and to Leelin Booysen who volunteered his time as our official photographer on the Saturday.

We couldn’t have done it without you guys!

Group shot of crowd and Afrika Ablaze
Nigel & Jamie Swarts – our amazing MC on the Friday night
A/V work isn’t always serious business… Chelsea having a laugh with Claudia and Joel

It truly does take a village to raise a child or impact a community and we are so grateful to each and every person and organisation for all the support and encouragement.

I wish the whole of Cape Town could put all their youth day events on hold and go to this conference. It was such a blessing!” – Christoffel Maneville

Some of the crowd with the Afrika Ablaze dancers
Photo: Gino Solomon

All other photos: Leelin Booysen and 9Miles Project