Established in 1958, Girls & Boys Town (GBT) is a national non-profit organisation that runs proven and successful programmes to strengthen vulnerable youth. Through a combination of interventions we, on average, assist between 16 000 to 20 000 beneficiaries a year.

Our core focus is to remove the obstacles and barriers that prevent children from finding their light – and helping them to Shine®.

GBT is thus committed to working with:

Vulnerable children both placed into our therapeutic residential campuses nationally, via the Children’s [not criminal] Courts

Children and families in their own communities and family homes nationally, where they are identified as being vulnerable

Community schools nationally, where learners face obstacles and barriers to learning

Researching youth in transition as we reach for identifying indicators of success for youth and contributing to the local and international professional knowledge field.

GBT Operational Principles

Most of the children served by GBT are orphaned, abandoned, abused or rejected by their families or caregivers. Most of them arrive with shattered dreams, sick at heart and often in body too. Some have been physically, psychologically or sexually abused and experienced neglect and abandonment. Many of the youth also come from broken or poverty-stricken homes, perform badly at school, have discipline issues, reject authority and lack social skills.

GBT co-operates with many other NPO’s and childcare structures in strengthening and empowering youth, families and communities, and the portal through which many youth enter the organisation’s care. The success of GBT’s evidence-based approach for helping youth is measured annually via evaluations of quality of service offered and beneficiary satisfaction levels, as well as via the ongoing GBT/UJ ‘Growth Beyond the Town’ longitudinal research study, which identifies how youth cope once they leave care and function in the real world.

Vincent Bones, winner of South Africa’s 2014 South African Idols competition is one such individual. As a child he fended for himself on the streets for two years before entering directly into GBT’s care.

GBT is the only childcare organisation in South Africa where youngsters are significantly involved in decision-making concerning their own affairs. The organisation’s unique system of peer group self-government and family-style living encourages girls and boys to learn about and assume real leadership and responsibility roles, under the guidance of adults. This model capitalises on the teenagers’ desire for admiration and respect from their peers, develops leadership skills and instils responsibility and values for life.

By February 2017, Girls and Boys Town had trained and consulted to over 982 partner schools and organisations, 12,521 educators and impacted on the educational development of 466,662 learners nationally. The SACE accredited GBT Education Model workshops ‘Well-Managed Classroom’, ‘Administrative Intervention’ and ‘Effective Staff Development through Consultation’ assist educators and schools to manage disruptive learners while building strong relationships, improving learner retention, as well as social and academic achievement. In addition, the GBT ‘Common Sense Parenting’ workshop has trained over 1,347 parents.


The Shine™ Programme goals are at the heart of GBT’s approach to helping vulnerable youth find their light and S.H.I.N.E.®. Our therapeutic care programme for vulnerable and at-risk children is framed by the Shine® goals. It is founded on five mutually reinforcing principles which also direct our work.

SHINE Artwork 02 1


Girls and Boys Town is accredited with major national, educational regulators that operate in the fields of youth care, education, social development, training, non-governmental sector and governance.

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