Monash South Africa (MSA) staff and student association MUCYDA (Monash University Child and Youth Development Association) celebrated Child and Youth Care (CYC) week from Monday, 4 May to Friday, 8 May 2015. CYC week is an internationally recognised initiative celebrated in the first week of May to create awareness about the CYC profession and honour the work done by those who have dedicated themselves to the development and growth of young people.

The Child and Youth Development unit offered at MSA is concerned with improving poor early life experiences of children and adolescents that can lead to harmful outcomes including underachievement of potential, behaviour problems and delinquency. Therefore, to commemorate this CYC week, Monash South Africa’s CYC department linked this with the national movement called Green Week, which promotes a focus on the creation of healthy environments for children, and invited the campus to wear something green for the week. On Monday, 4 May students and staff assembled on campus to take pictures to share with the international network as a symbol of their support.

MUCYDA organised a full week of activities on campus including on-campus talks about challenges faced by the youth and listening to extracts from short stories of children from the Zandspruit informal settlement, who are part of the ‘This is Me’ programme. The programme is managed by Sahl Karim, a second year MSA Child and Youth Development student, together with a hundred other student volunteers. Moreover, first year students participated in a poster competition held on campus. These posters represented the students’ reflection of the child and youth care profession, which were judged by members attending the Inaugural Child and Youth Development Advisory Board meeting.

By the end of the week, media wanted to learn more about the CYC profession and the great initiatives hosted on campus for CYC week. Honouring an invitation to be interviewed by a well-known South African radio station, SAFM was Associate Professor Rika Swanzen, Unit Head for Child and Youth Development accompanied by Sahl Karim to talk about CYC week, child and youth development as well as the ‘This is Me’ project.

The This Is Me’ programme is among many others that MUCYDA has initiated. MUCYDA promotes volunteer projects for the youth to engage with local community, thereby proving students the opportunities to partner with local schools and develop themselves as young leaders and forces of influence in the lives of learners at a critical stage of their development. Furthermore, MUCYDA aims to develop young people into citizens that impact the lives of the communities around them. The association is made up of students and lecturers who have dedicated themselves to encouraging children in local communities through programmes like tutoring, reading and educational games, with the hope that the time invested in these children can translate into success at school and later in life.