Young people will become the stars of their own lives

Young people will become the stars of their own lives

Not far from Trelleborg’s production site, outside Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, the Star for Life program will enable 800 young people to soon be able to actualize their dreams. Trelleborg supports the program since the beginning of 2013.

Star for Life is a school program initiated in 2005 in South Africa by the Swedish entrepreneur Dan Olofsson. The vision is to inspire young people to believe in themselves, to live a life free from HIV/AIDS and to create a promising future. To date, 100,000 young people have participated in the three-year program. It is based on a coaching method in which artistic expressions, creativity and joy through such activities as music play an important role.

The Star for Life coach plans the program together with the school principal and the teaching staff. The aim is for the knowledge and experience gained from Star for Life to be retained within the school when three years have passed.

In 2009, Star for Life and the Swedish organization Friends of children in Sri Lanka entered a partnership. Christina Riddebäck is the President of the 33-year-old organization and in charge of the Star for Life program in Sri Lanka. The Trelleborg-sponsored school program will be the third one that she has been involved in implementing.

“We saw considerable value in the fact that the school was located close to Trelleborg’s tire factory in Kelanyia. Some of the employee’s children are pupils there. This will raise the level of commitment,” she says.

Trelleborg AB aims to nurture the relationships it has with the communities where its plants are located. The company was attracted by the Star for Life program and its focus on the education and development of a young Sri Lankan generation.

Christina Riddebäck knows Sri Lanka well and describes the area where the school is located as a relatively poor and densely populated industrial zone. The resources of the families, as well as the public school system, are very limited. Classes are large and many of the pupils live marginalized lives. HIV/AIDS is not such a major problem  as in southern Africa. Instead, the focus of the Star for Life program in Sri Lanka is on general sexual health and social issues, such as domestic violence.

“A civil war has been raging here for 28 years and, for many of these young people, war is all they know. They need to feel a sense of hope and that they have the power to change their lives. That’s what this community needs,” remarks Christina Riddebäck.

Read more: Supporting a brighter future in Sri Lanka, New Star for Life program for Sri Lankan students supported by Trelleborg