Innovation = a change in thinking

The dictionary definition of the word innovation can be broadly understood as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs or existing market needs. It can further be understood as finding a new solution to a problem, and one that has not been done before.

As Activators, we all are faced with different challenges and as individuals, we have different passions. The issue, however, is finding the link between innovation and problem solving skills.

Some would argue that innovation cannot be acquired, rather it is something an individual either naturally possesses or not. However, to be innovative does not require a special “gift”, it merely needs a change in thinking, taking your mind to places it has been before or simply thinking “out of the box”.

Innovative thinking challenges the individual to explore the unseen, the unheard of solution that at times may seem very eccentric, but that is often what makes the difference.

I always thought of myself as an innovative thinker, sometimes needing guidance on the thought process, but generally an innovative thinker. I think that this is probably what attracted me to ACTIVATE!. During the residential training, I found myself in a space in which I could where my mind could explore and with the help of my colleagues discuss and work through ideas to fine tune them to a point where these ideas scream “INNOVATION”.

This is also where the idea of the Community Street Sports League was born.

The idea for the Sports League was to organise a Street Sports League, specifically for communities ravished by gangsterism and substance abuse. Matches take place on the street to attract community attention and build community ownership. Each community enters teams for each sport in a typical league system.

The streets of these communities are usually used for criminal activities and other social ills. Through this project, we look to use the streets in a positive manner to build community ownership, build on the sporting talents on the community and show a united front against these social ills.

Due to my extensive involvement in crime prevention, drug awareness and rehabilitation and possessing a keen interest in gang violence and the dynamics of gangs, I would often use the platforms provided by the ACTIVATE! team to passionately discuss and explore these topics. These discussions would often continue at the dinner table and one evening myself and my colleagues unintentionally started brainstorming solutions to the social problems many South African communities face.

We realised that one of the biggest problems associated to all these issues was the lack of community involvement in addressing these issues, as well as a serious lack of community ownership in taking back their streets.

In the past, numerous such as organisations the People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) and Qibla attempted in addressing these challenges and issues, but often they were associated with violence and vigilantism and sometimes such violence even meant innocent civilians being injured or killed in the process.

The innovation aspect of the idea came in when I challenged myself to find a peaceful, non-violent solution to address the issues of gangsterism and drugs and also the serious problem of a lack of community ownership. Many thought that there were no peaceful solutions available to them.

Fortunately, with this particular project I feel confidence it its ability to start changing mindsets of the community as well as combating social ills, and using sport as a tool to do so.

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