It was a blisteringly cold evening out on the Magoebaskloof mountain pass where a very unique group of people were readying themselves for an evening that would change the lives of 24 youngsters forever.

It was the Warriors Autumn Quest graduation ceremony and in attendance were the founders of the Warriors Programme, Rudi and René Viljoen with their daughter Rowena, son Ruan and the rest of the Warriors Facilitators and Instructors surrounded of course, by the 24 brave youngsters who just completed their Autumn Quest and would be receiving their official jackets.

The Warriors Academy needs little introduction as it was started by the Viljoen’s more than 18 years ago as a programme to help young students develop emotional intelligence, leadership skills and facilitate their personal empowerment. Essentially, youngsters arrive at the doorstep of the Warriors Academy as socially awkward individuals afraid of what the world and life in general will be throwing at them – and leave a few months later as grown adults, masters of themselves and dictators of their future.

It has long been the dream to established a formal foundation and this year that dream came to fruition at the birth of the Warriors Foundation. This new foundation will act as a catalyst for upliftment in providing deserving underprivileged students with the opportunities to enrol in the Warrior programme. The foundation will actively seek out the most deserving recipients of bursaries and scholarships and help them develop strong characters and leadership skills to become the future leaders of an ever-changing society.

During the ceremony on Thursday evening, the 27th of May, those in attendance at the Warriors base camp were treated to a three-course meal while they watched short films on the progress made by each of the young quest participants. Brief introductions and words of encouragement by each of the graduates accentuated the importance this programme played in shaping the lives of the young adults who partook in it. It was an emotional evening filled with tears of joy from, and for, each of the Warriors.

As part of a fundraiser for the newly established Warriors Foundation, tickets were raffled out among the guests and some amazing prizes were offered by some of the local businesses and resorts. Coupled with other donations during the evening, the foundation received a fitting welcome. To those local companies looking for a vehicle to support their own corporate social responsibility projects, the Warriors Foundation is a viable alternative.

There are many ways to become involved including sponsorship of a leadership camp for your chosen charity or even offering a scholarship. For these options and more information on how to become involved, please visit www.warriorsfoundation.org.za

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