How Youth Network ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is giving back to unsung heroes this Mandela Month

By Zamayirha Peter

Youth network ACTIVATE! Change Drivers (ACTIVATE!) has built a decade-long legacy of encouraging the deliberate efforts of young people as drivers of positive change in their communities. The network has supported the building processes many young people have embarked on with resources, skills, and access to a network of young people in every province, mobilizing themselves as a youth demographic toward driving social change.

The national network has a success story of having built a cohort of over 4325 young people, 39% of whom are business owners, 44% who are involved in HIV and AIDS initiatives and 87% who are actively engaged with other youth in the civic society space, including holding official offices in the public and private sector, as well as their respective communities at the grassroots level.


Active Citizen Awards

After a decade of the network, the active citizen awards were introduced to celebrate young people who have enabled positive change in their communities with little to no recognition. Now in its second year, the active citizen awards on their launch received 100s of applicants who inspired the network to continue the initiative as a token of celebrating young people and amplifying the individual efforts that have impacted themselves and their communities positively.

Reflecting on the campaign ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Chief Executive Officer, Siphelele Chirwa, describes the campaign as being a necessary effort from the network to add to amplify the efforts of young people and demonstrate the potential and active nature of young people as positive change drivers in their communities.

“We launched the Active Citizen awards last year as a campaign for our 10-year celebration, we were blown away by what young people are doing in their communities away from cameras and the audience ship of mainstream media. The work we do in the civic society space often goes unrecognized, usually the custodians of this work are sometimes seen as being more than human and find themselves with a double edge sword, where they do work they love, are passionate about, but receive little to no credit, let alone a thank you to keep going”.

“With the continuation of the awards we wish to never underestimate the power of a pause and taking of a moment to acknowledge young people who are presently present in their communities, when no one else is, away from cameras and public applause. Many of these young people exist in our network and several outside of it, they inspire us to keep going, we wish to say with these awards ‘we see you’ and we know that our country and nation are better because of your efforts”, she adds.


Celebrating the doers in our community

The youth are South Africa’s key to reaching greatness, for the last decade ACTIVATE! Change Drivers has created a platform for young people to gather and mobilise each other as a youth demographic, toward driving social change, using their passions towards the realisation of positive change in their communities.

ACTIVATE! continuously recognizes the impact the South African Youth make every day with the Active Citizen Awards initiative, its objectives are to recognise and regard youth that have created resilient, entrepreneurial and robust solutions that have positively impacted their community and world.


2nd Cohort of the active citizen awards

This year’s installation of the 10 Active Citizen Awards seeks to profile the doers in our communities who often go without recognition or praise. Young people who exist in sectors otherwise vacuum without their efforts. Through the 10 inclusive categories, the Active Citizen Awards aim to recognize the efforts of young people and affirm the potential youth have as a demographic when organized and committed to driving social change.

These categories include, but are not limited to, Civil Society, Education, Early Childhood Development, Family planning, Arts and Entertainment, Health, Technology and Innovation, Entrepreneurship and sport. These young people are actively shaping South Africa and playing a pivotal role in building its future.

The Active Citizen awards seek to reward 10 individuals by sending them a gift to the value of R2500 each on behalf of the network to highlight the unsung heroes who do the work that hardly gets a thank you.


Read here about the 2022 winners:

Download the criteria here:

Winners of the awards will be contacted directly and announced on all ACTIVATE! Digital platforms.

Related Articles