THE YEAR 2013 is proving to be the year of the youth.

Philanthropy and politics are making their way to the top of young people’s priority lists. And Mandela Day is a perfect way of engaging in both.

A recent survey by consumer research company, Pondering Panda, showed that nine out ten youngsters had plans of taking part in the Mandela Day initiative this year.

The number of youth giving 67 minutes of their time on former president Nelson Mandela’s birthday has increased threefold, with 33% of those surveyed saying they would be participating for the first time.

The Wits community has also done its bit to celebrate Mzansi’s favourite statesman.

Wits Business School (WBS) went to the Nazareth House in Yeoville. The house is home to abandoned HIV positive babies and children.

The Yeoville home also looks after the aged, mentally challenged and terminally ill.

WBS staff members decided to create a fun-filled day of cake and play for the 30 children of Nazareth House.

Face painting, jumping castles and games were the order of the day as the children enjoyed hot dogs, party packs and a large Nelson Mandela birthday cake.

“We decided to do something more personal and fun for the kids,” said WBS events officer Vuyolwethu Mntonintshi.

The WBS team also bought groceries, clothes and nappies for the home.

“We thought we’d also do some painting and gardening, but the place is actually pretty well-maintained,” Mntonintshi said.

She said they still had plans to buy books and toys for Nazareth House but had to wait for the procurement process at Wits to pass.

The spotlight on Nelson Mandela’s health appears to have brought greater attention to the icon and his legacy.

Some prominent young people decided to have an early Mandela Day.

In the second week of July, Lehasa Moloi of ETV’s Sony Mgongo fame took to Alexandra township with a team of celebrities.

The stars gave residents of the Itlhokomeleng Home for the Elderly manicures and haircuts in the sun. They also enjoyed chats over tea and cake in paying respect to Mandela.

Moloi was raised by his grandparents and is no stranger to frail care as he looked after his grandparents when they were ill.

He said he wished the plight of senior citizens could be “in people’s faces all the time” as they tend to be the “forgotten generation”.

While his condition is said to have improved, the former president’s health continues to be a matter of concern to South Africans everywhere.