Pupils help

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Pupils at Wetherby High School responded to a call to help a disadvantaged township in South Africa by sending out 17,000 new pencils.

Fresh Start, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping children to help themselves to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and helplessness through recycling, asked for help.

It asked the Wetherby school to provide pencils for the Smutsville Recylce wop Shop which invites children in the township to exchange recyclable material for points which they can then use to buy new or second hand goods which have been brought to the shop.

Young people are helped to develop other life skills like maths, teamwork, trading skills and learn about the environment and the benefits of recycling and upcycling while learning to help themselves. Top performers are invited to get involved in sports development, tree planting and other wider programmes.

A school spokesman said: “Pencils are a very valued and popular commodity in the shop and the response from the pupils at Wetherby has been amazing - 17,000 new pencils were given by staff and pupils, way beyond anything expected.”

Wetherby High Head Boy George Thelwell said: “We were delighted to be able to give the children of Smutsville something that they wanted.

“By supporting Fresh Start we can help to give less advantaged young people the opportunity to help themselves and that is a priceless gift.”

The school spokesman added: “We hope to continue our links with this charity whose ethos is based on preparing the next generation for the world they will inhabit, whilst also seeking to improve the environment.

“As such it chimes with our own school’s philosophy of enabling each and every child to fulfil their potential from whatever baseline they begin.”

A spokesman for Fresh Start explained that Smutsville, a township near Sedgefield on the Garden Route in the Western Cape Province, sees the majority of people living in shacks.

Teenage pregnancy levels are high, employment is limited, and alcohol and drugs are used as an antidote to hopelessness.

There is a dependency on handouts which adds to low self-esteem. The vision of the charity is to create a new generation that is empowered to reach their full potential and make a fresh start in life.