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Khayelitsha cycling academy now 25 bicycles richer

Wednesday, 04 April 2012
Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy

Monday the 2nd April saw the culmination of the incredibly successful Pick n Pay Like Bike Campaign, when 25 bicycles were presented to the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy, an organisation that focuses on giving youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds the skills and opportunities to make a success of their lives, both on and off the bike.

The Like Bike, the brainchild of Pick n Pay’s digital marketing team and an integral part of this year’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, was powered solely by "likes" on the Pick n Pay Facebook page. For every "like" received, 10 metres were added to the distance intrepid sports junkie Liezel van der Westhuizen was able to cycle on race day; and for every 10 kilometres she completed, Velokhaya stood to receive a brand new bicycle, which meant a total of 11 bikes could ultimately be donated. However after the race, Pick n Pay generously increased the number of bikes to 20. In addition to this, Probike donated another five, bringing the total number of bikes to 25.

Learners spent the day yesterday putting the new bikes through their paces at the Velokhaya BMX Oval in Khayelitsha, with Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Director of Transformation at Pick n Pay and Liezel van der Westhuizen joining in the festivities.

Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy (a non-profit organisation) is a Khayelitsha-based cycling initiative founded in 2003 which uses cycling as a vehicle for youth development and upliftment. A range of holistic, education-based cycling programmes are used to empower children living in marginalised and under-resourced communities. Through cycling, the children are helped to deal with their day-to-day challenges and develop to their full potential. The past eight years have shown that success with cycling often translates into success in other spheres of the childrens lives, as the sport teaches them essential life skills such as discipline, motivation, loyalty and teamwork.

To date, the cycling programmes have produced eight elite cyclists who have competed at the highest level of road cycling in South Africa, with two former cyclists, Luthando Kaka and Songezo Jim, now cycling for top South African pro-teams (Team Bonitas and Team MTN Quebeka). Both cyclists have represented South Africa internationally. Velokhaya also boasts a number of provincial road cycling champions (male and female) 14-year-old Anita Zenani achieved a UCI BMX World Ranking in 2010.

These are just a few examples of Velokhaya members who have become positive role models in a community desperately in need of these. Not only have their achievements inspired other township youth to become involved in sport, but their success has also brought great pride to their families and their communities.

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