Chrysalis Academy is a unique educational establishment for young people aged 18 to 25 from disadvantaged backgrounds marked by poverty or violence. The students originate from inner city tower blocks, desolate rural areas or the townships built years ago to divide one ethnic group from another.
The academy helps the youngsters by deepening their resilience and unleashing their mental, physical and spiritual potential. As its name suggests, it serves as a protective cocoon where the transformation from larva into butterfly can take place: the youngsters, who come from at-risk backgrounds or experienced serious social disadvantages, can go on to become role models and agents of positive change.
Chrysalis Academy is a former state reformatory situated in the beautiful Tokai forest inside Table Mountain National Park. It was turned into an academy in 2000. The structure that was originally created to imprison its occupants is today an extraordinary and truly unique project that is supported by the South African government and private sponsors.
Every day almost 200 students follow a routine based on on military discipline, physical exertion and cast-iron rigour. The typical day begins at 4.30 am and is organised into a sequence of daily activities designed to strengthen not only the body, but also the mind. Eleven hours later the afternoon programme begins, consisting of marching under the hot South African sun, fitness tests, yoga and meditation, artistic activities, but also courses and classes to prepare students for graduation day. After graduating from the academy the youngsters are accompanied for a further five years through a programme of work placements.