Through this outreach, more than 200 learners at Thusanang Primary School in White-City got an opportunity to interact with Higher Certificate in Sports Sciences (HCSS) students from the University of Pretoria, who on the day assisted with tutoring, homework and later engaged in physical activities, which included a variety of games. The HCSS community engagement initiative is aligned to the University of Pretoria strategic objectives in addressing development challenges by linking the research and teaching skills of staff and students to the specific needs of the diverse communities.
“Giving back to the community is the essence of progressive leadership and community development projects. Such initiatives are utilised to address community challenges and provide opportunities to communities that are often excluded. The HCSS community engagement resonates with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which intend to raise awareness of global developments in education, sustainable communities, health and wellbeing. I am proud of the students’ commitment and the great work they did,” said Leepile Motlhaolwa, HCSS Lecturer.
HCSS Students also got an opportunity to visit Lifting Dreams Soweto gym, which operates out of the front yard of defending SA Weightlifting Champion Khati Mabuya’s mother’s house. Lifting Dreams Soweto offers free weightlifting training for children aged nine to 17. Mabuya shared with students how he started the club in 2019 with his brother, Katleho, to get children off the streets, drugs and out of trouble to teach them discipline and perseverance.
“I wanted to build a gym which was going to be a place of safety for the kids,” says Mabuya, “A space where they can gather together after school and do their homework and train.”
Soon after starting the club, the Mabuya met Hein Badenhorst when they turned up at a weightlifting competition with 14 youngsters from Soweto. Badenhorst introduced the club to British weightlifting Olympian Sonny Webster, who helped them raise funds. With their help and donations from the National Federation of Weightlifting and My Fitness gym, the club now has functional equipment.
“Currently, the club trains 60 youngsters and their biggest problem is a lack of space. They can only accommodate 20 at a time. With schools being on rotation due to Covid-19 regulations, the youngsters train on alternating days. Lifting Dreams also focuses on improving academic outcomes. All members have to get a minimum of 60% at school, and if they don’t they have to do a set of squats for every percentage point they missed,” said Hein Badenhorst.
Nombuso Khoza, a Higher Certificate in Sports Sciences student indicated that visiting the school and they gym has taught her a lot about giving back. “Today I learned that we rise by lifting others. I feel proud to have contributed my time to a worthy cause, helping these kids with homework and also bringing smiles on their face with the fun games we played was heart-warming. I wish to do more moving forward.” she said.
LJ van Zyl added that the task team will continue to engage with Lifting Dreams to forge a solid partnership. “We believe in the power of sport to transform lives. This partnership aims to promote positive development through physical activity. I foresee a lot of our students benefiting greatly from this partnership as we vigorously promote a community engaged scholarship, life skills and sport based youth development,” concluded van Zyl.