Focus on health at Khayelitsha race

The early hours of Sunday morning saw more than 1 300 energetic runners participating in the annual Khayelitsha 10km and 5km event organised by the Khayelitsha Athletic Club.

Thanks to the joint effort of the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA), the Two Oceans Marathon Initiative (TOMI),Woolworths, MySchool and Vukani, in conjunction with the race organisers, a mini Move4Health campaign was rolled out.

This saw weeks of useful health and lifestyle tips featured in articles in Vukani. The team leader of Vukani, Vukile Sonandzi – also a keen runner – played a significant role in getting local schools to buy into participating in the 5km fun run.

Hundreds of pupils were bused to the start at Mandela Park stadium – where they received a brightly branded T-shirt. In line with running clean and keeping plastic litter off the Khayelitsha streets, these enthusiastic runners are also given a water bottle.

To fill hungry tummies after the run – the pupils – all proudly sporting their shiny medals – received a goodie bag filled with healthy snacks.

Making a difference in these youngsters’ lives requires resources both financial and in terms of human resources and this Khayelitsha campaign illustrated what can be achieved when partners work together for a common goal.

Says a jubilant Nicole Watson, SSISA’s Community Health Intervention Programme (CHIPS) project manager: “What an exciting Move4Health campaign and 5km event to celebrate the young, active lives of Khayelitsha.

The pupils were ready to participate in the race as buses arrived at 7am. Seeing their enjoyment and bright smiles makes all the hard work that SSISA puts into this worthwhile.”

Equally positive about the event was Thando Tladi, national manager of Woolworths’ Educational Programmes and Events.

“We are always very happy for the opportunity to get involved in events that create a day for learners and their community that makes lasting difference and centre on the importance of health and physical education.

“Thank you to the organisers and other partners for their role in achieving this Khayelitsha Move4Health event.”

Fortunately – this is not the end of the road for getting children active. Watch this space for an even bigger campaign to start in all the community newspapers early in September.

Chantel Erfort, editor of Cape Community Newspapers, which publishes Vukani and its 14 sister titles, believes in the transformative power physical exercise can have on young people, particularly when it’s done outdoors and with others.

“We believe that our role as community is not only to inform our readers, but also give them important information that is useful to them in their daily lives and which can help them improve their lives.

“Through putting our weight behind the campaign to get young people active and moving for their health, we hope to make a lasting impression on the minds of young people – and the adults who help shape them – about the importance of healthy living,” said Erfort.

“It truly was heartwarming for me to see the children on race day enjoying an invigorating run through Khayelitsha.”

In the meantime, put on those trainers and keep walking and running.

Kathleen Mc Quaide is an exercise scientist at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.