Faith Young: aiming to be a positive presence at parties  |  Photo: Ronelle de Villiers
Sorry, were you saying something about millennials and narcissism? Here’s a busy young student dedicating precious time to help fellow students who are partying… just a little too hard! SUE SEGAR spoke to FAITH YOUNG of Red Frogs, a student support network aiming to provide a positive peer presence in drug- and alcohol-fuelled environments. Faith (21) is in her final year of a B Comm Information Systems degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT)

‘FEW PEOPLE SAY NO TO A PANCAKE, and we at Red Frogs give them out for free. We go to an event, set up our gazebo and make pancakes. They soak up alcohol really well and create a space for some great conversations about life and the universe!

Red Frogs (named after the sweets it first gave out) originated in Australia and came to South Africa in 2009. Its first event was at Ballito Rage in Kwa-Zulu Natal, where school-leavers party after their final exams. All in all, Frogs operates at 16 universities around the country, five ‘Rage’ locations and all the major music festivals.

In 2018, South Africa’s Red Frogs handed out over 146 000 free pancakes to young people around the country

Our overriding aim is to be a positive presence at parties and events so that people have the best time they can. We want to empower them to make the right decisions so that they’re safe, happy and where they want to be. We’re there to listen to people, to love them… and to give out pancakes!

As head of the UCT Red Frogs team, I manage all the events that come out of the university campus or take place in the Cape Town area. I organise a group of volunteer ‘Frogs’, okay the pancake stand with event organisers and generally ensure things go smoothly for the team.

‘Our overriding aim is to help people have the best time they can,’ says Faith

The incidents we deal with are usually alcohol-related. We’re not a primary response unit, there are always medics on hand to handle serious incidents. We deal mainly with intoxicated people, some of whom become very ill because they might have mixed too many drinks. Or other stuff happens, too: at Plett Rage a guy came to us who had accidentally mixed painkillers and alcohol. He was in a really bad way and had to have his stomach pumped and spend ‘quality time’ in hospital.

I joined Red Frogs because my best friend at church loved volunteering with them, and suggested I do the same. The first time I helped out was at Plett Rage when I’d just finished school. It was great! Many of the partiers were in my grade and it was good to help some of them.

Faith aims to keep volunteering for Red Frogs while studying for a Master’s degree  |  Photo: Ronelle de Villiers

I think many young people drink excessively because they’re quite confused. If you’re at varsity or studying, you’re expected to be part of the partying culture: if you’re not, you’re left out. We organise activities such as coffee crawls and hikes as an alternative.

The Red Frogs don’t judge people, the basis of what we do is love. I personally am inspired by God in the form of Jesus to help people out this way. People are generally grateful and we’ve seen a number adopt a healthier relationship with alcohol.

In the long term, I want to study for my Master’s but also to keep working with Red Frogs. I believe we’ve got the potential to do so much more to help young people make the right choices.’

The Frogs hand out 18 900 bottles of Thirsti water annually to keep revellers hydrated. ‘We want to empower people to make the right decisions so that they’re safe, happy and where they want to be,’ says Faith

Red Frogs Support Network South Africa is a volunteer-run NPO which is very open to sponsorship. If you’d like to help or consider partnering with the Frogs, contact Mike Cheney on +27 72 117 6326. Plus, check it out on Facebook and Instagram 

The Red Frog sweet that started it all. Two tonnes are set to be distributed in South Africa in 2019
Pancakes and friendship. Simple things such as these have helped a number of young people develop a healthier relationship with alcohol, says Faith
Beacon: the Frogs offer an alternative way to have fun
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