We chat to Dr WP Van Zyl, who is heading up The Drift Estate’s Headstart Trust
What is the HeadStart Trust? The HeadStart Trust is a CSR project started by The Drift Estate. This registered charitable trust aims to primarily uplift school children in the poorest rural areas. We are putting a portion of the sales of our Moveable Feast towards it as well as going out and raising money specifically for the HeadStart Trust projects.
Where did the idea come from? The long-term vision is from Bruce Jack’s late mother, Elspeth, who wanted to create a music academy in the Napier region. There is an overwhelming amount of research that shows the positive impact music has on concentration, learning and general mental well-being.
Why is there a need for this? We farm up against the Akkedisberg, about 600m above sea level – very close to the southern tip of Africa. While it is a remote windswept part of the word, we produce amazing grapes that produce fantastic wine. Yet, we farm in a poverty-stricken area. An area where access to methamphetamine, marijuana, and alcohol offers excitement to young children. In a world of little opportunity, role-models tend to become young ladies seeking pregnancy in order to qualify for a meager state welfare grant. Support is required so that these children have the opportunity to access the potential they are capable of. By uplifting these school children we are able to create an up-welling of social cohesiveness, so that despite the poverty, with education, anything is possible.
How is this being achieved? There are amazing possibility creators working for good in Napier: the local school, Protea Primary, is very well run. Staff members and local residents alike remain positive and determined to focus on flourishing the community. For example, the school vegetable garden we helped start is flourishing. It provides produce for school lunches and any excess goes to those in the community that need it most.
But what of the music school? The HeadStart Trust has appointed experienced teachers and is funding the academy, operating out of Protea Primary. Classes began in the second term this year and the results are proving amazing: one pupil hardly has the capacity to spell her own name. Yet, she thrives during music lessons. Another, who has returned from reform school is showing remarkable positive behaviour.
What is a positive impact of these music lessons? Music lessons allow these pupils to focus, behave, and value themselves. Music is becoming a possibility. It’s bringing hope to the community. Teachers are noticing how the music lessons are contributing to reading, mathematics and general learning.
What is the vision? While, we are starting in Napier with the Elspeth Jack Music Academy, our vision is to establish 25 music academies in the poorest rural communities in the next 50 years, along with vegetable gardens at these schools, since we are farmers and can given back to these communities in this way. Leaving a legacy of hope, creativity, imagination and success.
How can people contribute? Enjoy a bottle of Moveable Feast with the knowledge that you have helped contribute to our projects or contact WP van Zyl on firstname.lastname@example.org. To get more involved and donate to these projects you are also welcome to contact Bruce Jack directly on 082 727 2481.