DF Malan High School in Bellville is challenging stereotypes and tackling discrimination in an innovative way.
Hundreds of pupils are raising money to make it possible for physically challenged children to attend mainstream schools.
Inspired by a hemiplegic Grade 8 boy who is thriving at the school thanks to a personal facilitator, the pupils have made an innovative video they hope will “break the internet” and bring donations.
“I want to help other kids and be an inspiration,” said Herman Theart, 15, the inspiration behind the video. As a result of a car crash when he was two, Herman has limited use of the right side of his body. He needs a facilitator to help him take notes in class and perform other tasks, because writing left-handed is slow going.
But against all odds, he is managing at the high school he always dreamed of going to, and is also a member of the rugby team.
“All my friends were coming here and I didn’t want to leave them,” Herman said.
“They’re like family.” Now, he wants to help other children like him have the same opportunity. “If they want to go (to a mainstream school), they must just remember they can’t do it without a facilitator – but it’s possible,” he said.
The fundraising video’s message is through financial support, what seems “impossible” for physically challenged children can be transformed into “I’m possible”.
History and drama teacher Johan de Wet is the mastermind behind the video.
“(Herman) has been such an inspiration to us. He is our mascot. The rest of the kids love him,” Mr De Wet said.
“We thought there must be more kids like Herman who would love to go to a mainstream school like ours, but their parents can’t afford to pay the salary for a teacher to accompany them.”
The video is an astonishing feat of teamwork. It’s a stop-motion film of 800 DF Malan pupils spelling out a powerful message using the pattern of their black blazers and white shirts.
“It’s something I don’t think has ever been done by a South African school on this scale,” Mr De Wet said.
“We took more than 3 000 photographs of our school sitting in a block formation, and they make different shapes using their blazers. They sat two days in the sun and rain to make this happen.”
The school is calling on companies to pledge a donation of a small amount for every view the video receives. Meanwhile, Herman asked his schoolmates to do what they do best: share up a storm on social media so the video can get as many views as possible. In the first few hours after it was published, it had already been watched well over 1 000 times.
“This is one of the few times school is actually telling you to be on your phones,” Herman said to laughs from the student body. Watch the video by visiting dfmalan. com/possible – Cape Argus