Wits DigitalCampus supports SmilingOne and Bradley Hess

SmilingOne Change Agents work to unlock potential and inspire personal values-based leadership. The SmilingOne Foundation operates from the premise that we all own a share in the wellbeing of our society. The organisation trains Change Agents who facilitate Circles of Change (COC) in prisons, families, schools, crèches, communities, and businesses. This establishes a foundation for development with SmilingOne’s personal values-based leadership programme: The Responsible Individual (TRI). All Change Agents have been through the TRI process themselves and work hard to develop responsible individuals in the communities in which they work.

Once again, to commemorate Mandela Day on 18 July, Wits DigitalCampus is gifting a very special Change Agent from the SmilingOne Foundation with an opportunity to acquire the right tools to live into his purpose.

Bradley Hess, this year’s recipient of a sponsored Principles of Project Management course from DigitalCampus, shares his story in his own words.

“Before I joined the SmilingOne family, I lived a meaningless life … got myself involved with crime, became a weekend alcoholic … and soon my life spiralled out of control. At the age of 16 or 17 I was arrested. With no hope in mind, I went to prison with a lot of anger, fear, and distrust in myself and others. Even in prison I gave up on myself and this made me highly vulnerable to negative activities inside prison.

For years I’ve tried to find my way back, to live a life of value and peacefulness but it was all in vain because I couldn’t find ways or options to take charge of (responsibility for) who I am. In 2009 I met a Change Agent of SmilingOne who introduced me to The Responsible Individual (TRI) programme. At first it was major challenge to open up and take responsibility, however this change agent – Thando Skoji – planted seeds of love, inspiration, and care in my heart … unnoticed.

After two years I saw my life drastically change because Thando, the team, and Karina Andersen availed their undivided support. They have taught me that there are endless options to deal with pain, hurt, and irresponsible behaviour. I became calmer, focused, loveable. My communication changed as well as my behaviour towards myself and others. I observed just how much more I started to value life. There is so much I can write about what I’ve learned … yet the greatest learning for me from the TRI programme was that people do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.

As a Change Agent, I’ve discovered my purpose, which is to serve life and others to the best of my ability. At a young age I was only contributing negatively towards society, instead of building our future generation. With my tools I’ve gained from SmilingOne, I have already seen the remarkable difference and the change it has brought to my life and to my environment. I have been a voluntary worker for years in prison with hardened, dangerous, and irresponsible prisoners. I learned not to judge them but to love them and be the change I wish to see in the world.

The TRI programme and family (SmilingOne) has taught me to be a product of change and a brand of potential. My self-commitment has assisted me to stay on track now that I’m out on parole, and Karina’s guidance and mentorship has helped me to stay humble, consistent, reliable, and always appreciate our family as we appreciate ourselves.

With my renewed set of tools, I have affirmed my mission of planting the seed of change and potential in those I meet on my journey. With support, I can be the best version of myself to the world out there by meeting others where they are at and offering others the tools I have obtained. To be a Change Agent is a gift to others as well as to myself.

This is truly a great experience and it’s my deepest wish to give people the opportunity to realise that a criminal can change. As a Change Agent I regard myself as a respectful being; humble, self-committed, and highly inspirational. I want to bring about change in my environment and contribute to a better South Africa and a better world. I commit myself to this life-changing journey of discovering my value as a puzzle piece in this world.”

  • Bradley Hess

Bradley’s journey of self-discovery and change has been a truly remarkable one. It is much easier to remain the same than it is to step outside of one’s comfort zone and unlearn old ways of being. It took courage for Bradley to look within and to take ultimate responsibility for his life and the impact his actions had on others. We fully support and wish Bradley well as he continues on his journey of change and builds his new life while on parole.