In the week of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, many Mandela Day celebrations across South Africa have gone the extra mile. In partnership with the Department of Basic Education, the Woolworths Education Programme celebrated by bringing a special health and fitness event to Zakheni Primary school in Duduza.

More than 1100 learners, almost 40 educators and staff, as well as 6 volunteers who operate the school’s feeding programme participated in an action-packed day that highlighted the benefits and enjoyment of healthy eating and physical exercise.

Learners participated in the entertaining Woolworths Education Programme class lessons that use engaging interactive activities to teach the basics of healthy nutrition, including the South African Dietary-based Guidelines.  In partnership with the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA), the children were put through their paces along a six station health track manned by SSISA instructors, who helped them master different techniques.  From mountain-climbing to mini soccer challenges; from running backwards to a hula-hooping marathon, Zakheni learners experienced that a range of physical activities is not just good for you, but good fun too!

To promote the sustainability of the key messages of the event, six volunteers who are involved in preparing meals as part of the national schools feeding scheme enjoyed some valuable time with a Woolworths dietitian.  In order to help improve the quality and safety of meals provided to children at school, the focus was on the important balance provided by a variety of foods, healthy fats, understanding food labels, avoiding added sugar and salt, and sharing food safety and hygiene guidelines.

“We wanted to help create a day for the learners and their school community that makes a lasting difference,” says Woolworths Education Programme manager, Thando Tladi, “To celebrate Nelson Mandela’s incredible legacy, we aimed to empower and inspire Zakheni Primary to adopt a healthier lifestyle with a focus on good nutrition and regular physical activity.”

Every Mandela Day, Woolworths traditionally supports 67 employee-driven initiatives with a R5000 sponsorship each.  In celebration of Mandela’s centenary, this was extended to the R500 000 support of 100 projects.   “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Woolworths Education Programme to do something extra for the causes and communities that are close to our hearts,” concludes Tladi.