A group of young people recently underwent four full weeks of special training. Those long hours of training have now crystallised into a centrepiece that has pride of place at Alexandra’s Thusong Youth Centre in Johannesburg’s Region E.
As part of trying to gain a deeper understanding of the pulse of Alexandra, the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the City’s infrastructure development entity, trained 15 young people aged between 18 and 25 from the township to tell their stories about their neighbourhood.
Through photography, graphic design, social media and Google-mapping, these young residents of Alexandra have shown their talents and their innovations now form part of #MyAlex Exhibition at the centre.
The exhibition is about their experiences and perceptions of Alex. It includes Google maps showing safe places, dangerous places, places to eat, places to play and a 360 degree photosphere of their favourite and worst spaces.
Residents can also make their mark by showing their favourite/worst places in Alex and adding to the Alex Google Maps on www.facebook.com/MyAlex2016 or follow #MyAlex.
JDA Executive Manager: Planning and Strategy Douglas Cohen says: “This is part two of our project. The first part was in the inner city, where we documented JDA’s work.
“For Alex, we thought the best way to understand the township was by reaching out to the youth and seeing Alex through their eyes.”
The JDA is now gleaning more information about Alex through the young people’s experience.
“We're going to feed these ideas into the plan. Now we know which areas are perceived to be dangerous and which they like, what works and what doesn’t and other facilities that may be needed in the area.
“These ideas will be used for the new Alex Urban Development framework so that when we implement it we will be informed by a certain perspective,” said Cohen.
One of the participating youths in #MyAlex, Nhlanhla Mchunu, a first-year psychology student at Varsity College, said: “During the workshops, we were exposed to many ways we could bring about change to Alex and change people’s perception of Alex, how to change their mindsets before we took action.
“#My Alex project has shown me that I can bring change in my own community through my perception first, then taking action.”
Project Leader Mariapaola McGurk said: “The talent uncovered and the amount of work have completely blown us away. Even though this is the end of our project, I am hoping that the dream that you have envisioned for Alex comes true one day.”