Safe Spaces Projects

Safe Space projects have been inspired by artists, designers, and the young people we work with at Red River Primary School.  As a grassroots organization, Rock Girl welcomes proposals for new projects.

Safe Space Art and Study Room/Manenberg

The Safe Space Art Room was a collaboration between the learners and faculty of Red River Primary School and Cecile and Boyds Foundation. Rock Girl is proud to be the recipient of the first grant from the Foundation. In November 2011, the Safe Space Art and Study Room was unveiled by Olympic Champion Elana Meyer and United States Counsular General Erica Barks-Ruggles. Since it opened, this room has hosted artists including Heath Nash, Paul du Toit, Tracy Lynch, Sam Scarborough and others, who work side-by-side with the leaners on some incredible works of art.   Rock Girl is honoured that as a result of this partnership, Cecile and Boyds has created an entire team dedicated to creating other art rooms and safe spaces in schools around South Africa.  In 2014, Rock Girl is partnering with Cecile and Boyds on their mobile Art Room in a container, which is a World Design Capital project.

Safe Spaces “Day in the Life of a South African Girl”

Rock Girl partnered with comedian Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party” televised show to share the day in the life of a girl in South Africa. With the support of One Dog Chicken Production Company, Rock Girl and Rasheida, a thirteen-year old girl from Manenberg, took viewers on a tour of a day in her life.  This was aired online and viewed by girls around the world.

Safe Space Inside Out Project

In the spirit of collaboration and creativity that is at the heart of Rock Girl, photographers and producers from One Dog Chicken and boys and girls from the Rock Girl Red River programme conducted a workshop on violence against women and girls and boy-girl interactions, discussing the challenges of being a boy and girl in South Africa.  The girls and boys then worked with leading photographers to capture each other on film.  With the help of the Inside Out project, an award winning TED initiative, enlarged copies of these photographs and the video were pasted up at St. Andrews Square in Cape Town by the learners on Women’s Day 2013.  Since then, the images have also been projected at venues around the city, encouraging viewers to consider the challenges that boys and girls face as they grow up in Cape Town.

Safe Spaces Women of Steel

Rock Girl is partnering with architect Mokena Makeka to create public art in the form of life-size steel images of extraordinary South African women. These images are based on the Wonder Women series of cartoons that was designed by comic artists Nathan and Andre Trantraal.  This is a World Design Capital project.  The statues will be linked to online educational material to inspire and encourage others to learn from these women’s lives.

Safe Spaces Creative Hub in Gugulethu

Rock Girl is partnering with Nonkuleleko Community Garden, Inhouse Brand Architects, Name your Hood, and the World Design Capital to create the first-ever Safe Space Creative Hub, that will feature Rock Girl benches, as well as an upgraded garden and public theatre space for book readings, plays, and music.  For more information about how to get involved, contact Michael Kieck at Inhouse Architects (

Safe Spaces BOOK HOEKSProjects-Book-Hoeks-lowres_6177

In August 2013, Rock Girl partnered with the Shine Centre to install a Safe Spaces Book Hoek at St. Andrews Square, with the gracious support of Marc Truss and CCID.  The Book Hoek is a World Design Capital project and in 2014, five additional Book Hoeks will be installed around the city of Cape Town, including ones at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Heritage Square, Manenberg Peoples Centre, Khayelitsha HIV-AIDS Clinic, and Kloof Street.  The Book Hoeks combine a safe place to sit with a mini-free library stocked with up to 50 books from the Bookery.  The Book Hoeks encourage literacy and a love of reading and provide access to books to those who might not otherwise experience them on a daily basis.  The Shine Centre has also sponsored a Safe Spaces bicycle, staffed by interns from Grassroot Soccer, that re-stocks the Book Hoeks each week.

Safe Space Youth Reporters Project

Since 2013, Rock Girl has been partnering with the Children’s Radio Foundation to train youth to become youth reporters, particularly focused on issues of violence against women and children, safety, and gender.  Rock Girl youth were proud to co-produce a radio show on violence in 2013 that aired on SAFM.   In 2014, the Children’s Radio Foundation is training a new group of girls at Red River School to become Youth Reporters.

Safe Space Leadership Camps

In 2012 and 2013, Rock Girl hosted over 100 grade 7 girls at Rock Girl Leadership Camps, where girls traveled to locations outside their communities to experience nature, reflect on the challenges they face, and explore ways to strengthen their own lives and their communities.

Safe Manenberg Campaign

In mid-2013, gang violence escalated in Manenberg, forcing many schools to stay closed as a result of shootings.  Fifteen people were murdered on one street in one month.  Inspired by their teachers, who stood by the learners and protected them in the worst violence, Rock Girl and other organisations united to demand that schools received police support and protection, and that a long-term plan was created to address the challenges created by gangs and drug-related crime in Manenberg.  In December 2013,  the Open Society Foundation funded the Safe Manenberg, dedicated to building a safer community for all.  Rock Girl is proud to be part of this campaign.  In June 2014, an Interfaith Peace Service will be held in Manenberg to call for continued peace.

Resilient Girl GroupProjects-resilient-low_5801

In January 2014, Rock Girl began meeting with Rock Girl alums in grades 8 and 9, who participated in the Rock Girl programme in primary school at Red River.  These girls all attend different high schools but wanted to unite to continue their work to create a safer community and to support each other.  The programme focuses on building the girls confidence, critical thinking skills, and connections with their peers and the broader world outside Manenberg.  The group is partnering with photographers and writers to document their lives and share their stories with others.

 YOU KNEW ME:  Cape TownProojects-radio-low_5380

Rock Girl is partnering with Iliso Labantu, a photography cooperative that supports township photographers, and with the Children’s Radio Foundation, who train youth to be amplify their voices using radio, on a year long project to document and record Capetonians stories to commemorate twenty years of democracy in South Africa.  Rock Girl has created mobile benches, in partnership with Inhouse Brand Architects, that will be used as the stage for these interviews.  At the end of the year, a city-wide exhibition may be held to share these stories.  Historically, benches were used to divide South Africans.  Rock Girl is using our mobile benches to unite people in their shared stories.

Safe Spaces Jenni Button Campaign

Rock Girl was extremely fortunate to partner with the incredible artist Paul du Toit, and with Jenni Button, a subsidiary of the Platinum Group, to create beautiful vests to raise awareness about violence against girls and women, celebrate women’s strength and reslience, and also raise funds for Rock Girl’s leadership camps and afterschool programmes for girls.  The vests reflect the energy and spirit of the girls from Manenberg and inspire others to do more to create safe spaces in their own lives.

Rock Girl Boys Initiative

Rock Girl continues to include boys in its efforts to create safe spaces, recognising that they face challenges in their own lives.  We regularly involve boys in workshops, outings, and also organise boys-only events such as a day-long workshop and hike coordinated by Cape Leopard Trust.