Examples of Active Citizenship are seen frequently and earn high praise from citizens tired of complaining; we look at how to do more during the lockdown.
South Africa (30 June 2020) – Active citizenship refers to a philosophy espoused by organisations and educational institutions which advocates that members of charitable organisations, companies or nation-states have defined roles and responsibilities to society and the environment. However, those members may not have specific governing purposes.
Active citizenry is members of society who take charge of their future and are the agents of what they want to happen in their communities.
Individuals might be active in their communities in many different ways. Some people choose to get involved in issues or causes that directly affect their lives at a local level, while others might want to do something to make a difference to a cause that has an impact globally.
Earlier this year, we looked at how being an active citizen was the perfect way to play your part for South Africa. We had several suggestions on how you could get involved with various community projects, from getting to know your ward counsellor, to donating your time to community causes. When we shared this list, it was with an optimistic hope for South Africa where things looked very different from the world we are living in right now.
The lockdown in South Africa has meant that many of our goals for 2020 have had to change. How we do more for our community is very different today. We have to do what we can while following strict guidelines, social distancing and practising extensive hygiene care by wearing masks and regularly washing hands or sanitising.
So how does being an Active Citizen look in the new 2020?
Mostly, it looks the same, but we have to do a little more on our own because of the lockdown. The 2020 Active Citizen can still pick up litter as they do their morning or evening walks. The 2020 Active Citizen can still pull a weed here and there as they go but now more than ever, we can do more to support our neighbours and local organisations.
Here are some new ways to give back and play your part in 2020.
Offer to help your elderly neighbours through the lockdown.
Many elderly citizens are at the most significant risk and will be scared to leave their homes. You can help them by calling and offering to go grocery shopping or to pick up any medicines they may need.
You could also help by mowing their lawns, pulling pesky weeds, cleaning the pool, walking their pets or any other tasks that are labour intensive but can be done without any human contact.
Lastly, you can just offer your company. You can call them and ask them about their lives; everyone has a story they love to retell. The global elderly community are even more isolated than ever before, so the more we can do to stay connected, the better!
These tasks can also be done for your neighbours that have lost their jobs or are fighting COVID-19 in their homes.
Start a community garden.
Local churches and schools have ample space where you can create a community garden. You would need to get permission from the institution, but many would gladly welcome the change.
We have seen many community gardens pop up during this time, and they are an excellent way for people to get outdoors and do good. The gardens can supply food to families in need or to local soup kitchens. Some studies say getting your hands dirty in the garden, can be a great mood booster.
As a community, you could establish a garden, collect scraps to make raised beds, build a compost heap and get the basics like carrots, swiss chard, cabbage, tomatoes and more planted. There are groups on Facebook that are a wealth of knowledge for new South African gardeners.
You may even have a neighbour that knows everything and can help establish a beautiful space. Collaboration on a project like this can bring people together.
Reach out to your local organisation to see how you can help.
Many individuals and families have become reliant on the help of non-profit and non-government organisations. The need is so great that many organisations are unable to help everyone and have started to limit their reach. They are being stretched far too thin.
If you call your local charity, ask them if what you have to offer can be of help. Not everything needs to be financially based; you could help them by cooking warm meals, being a drop-off point for donations or using your skills to do something for them.
Every little bit helps!
Be sure to support as many local businesses as possible; this is the simplest way to play your part. Now more than ever we need to boost local economies. South Africa is a nation of entrepreneurs and small businesses, many will need support so where you can, shop local!
When we are allowed to travel again, travel South Africa. We need to inject as much money into our own country as possible. The government can’t save every single business, but we all have the power to do a little!
Play Your Part is a nationwide movement created to inspire, empower and celebrate active citizenship in South Africa. Its objective is to lift the spirit of our nation by inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change, become involved and start doing – because a nation of people who care deeply for one another and the environment in which they live is good for everyone. The campaign is driven by Brand South Africa.
Play Your Part is aimed at all South Africans – from corporates to individuals, NGOs to government, churches to schools, young to not so young. It aims to encourage South Africans to use some of their time, money, skills or goods to contribute to a better future for all.
There are numerous opportunities, big and small, for each and every South African to make a positive difference in the communities in which they live and operate. Play Your Part encourages them to act on these opportunities.
For more information on how you can play your part click here #GetInvolved #PlayYourPart
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