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Elderly getting fit and strong in Dawn Park

Tshepo ya Sechaba, a Dawn Park NPO, is Sesotho for “hope of the nation” and was founded by Cynthia Nhlapo.

Since the launch of the Tshepo ya Sechaba organisation in April last year, many productive programmes have been implemented to support the elderly physically and mentally.

She said the support from the public has been overwhelming with many people commending her for her hard work in dealing with the issues affecting older people.

“We started with 15 to 20 members but through word of mouth and flyers that we distributed around Dawn Park, many elderly people became interested to join and now we have over 40 members,” Nhlapo said.

The elderly members are from Villa Liza, Dawn Park, Sunward Park, Klipportjie, Vosloorus and Katlehong.

The organisation’s weekly programme includes running, aerobics (Mondays), walks around Dawn Park and discussions (Tuesdays), preparations for sport tournaments and visits by a social worker (Wednesdays).

“From the beginning of February we will introduce new activities for Thursdays and Fridays, which will include cultural activities and visitations to other grannies at their homes, and much more,” Nhlapo said.

One of the challenges the organisation face is not having a property of their own to run their programmes from. They run these from the Dawn Park Family Church.

“We are in need of financial assistance for transport, which I have provided to pick up the elderly at various points.

“We also need funding for food, which we provide after the training, uniforms or gym clothing and stipends for volunteers and drivers.”

Catherine Mabizela, assisted by Margret Vanda, during a training session.

Tshepo ya Sechaba has already participated in sport tournaments for the elderly in Springs, Pretoria, Katlehong and Vosloorus, and even taken first and second place medals.

According to Nhlapo, the aim of this organisation is to make sure that the elderly are treated with dignity, to provide them with physical and emotional support and show them that they are important and loved in the community.

One of the members, Catherine Mabizela, said: “Since I started training I can see a difference in my physical strength and can now walk long distances without getting tired.”

65-year-old Sapula Tuma doing push-ups before a training session.

Sinenhlanhla Mvelase, who has been training the elderly since last year, said there is a huge difference in the fitness of the elderly since they started the training.

“When we started, some of the old people were using walking sticks but many don”t rely on these any longer,” he said.

Tshepo ya Sechaba members will be participating in the Golden Games in March.

Elderly from across Ekurhuleni are invited to join the organisation. They meet from Mondays to Wednesdays at the Dawn Park Family Church, from 8am.

For more information contact Nhlapo on 082 4273 864.

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