ABOUT THE VELOKHAYA LIFE CYCLING ACADEMY
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy – or Velokhaya for short – is a not-for-profit organisation based in Khayelitsha, South Africa.
We use our cycling-based programmes to involve township youth in a positive, after-school activity. Our aim is to give children from disadvantaged communities the skills and opportunities they need to make a success of their lives. We use the sport of cycling to teach them important life skills such as discipline, determination, dedication, teamwork and how to win and lose etcetera. Sport also teaches children about resilience and perseverance; it gives them the opportunity to become physically and emotionally stronger and it also teaches them to strive for excellence, to be gracious in victory and to persevere in defeat. In other words, it help us grow champions on and off the bike.
VELOKHAYA – CONTEXT/RELEVANCE
Approximately one third of South Africa’s population is under the age of 15 (and more than 50% of the population under 25) and a large percentage of these young people live in areas affected by high levels of poverty and unemployment, which makes them particularly vulnerable to social ills such as crime and substance abuse.
The Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy was founded with the intention of using the sport of cycling to involve children living in these under-resourced communities in a positive after-school activity and to give them the life skills they need to deal with the challenges they face.
As a Khayelitsha-based organisation, we are only too aware of the extent of the challenges faced by our township youth and we know that the skills our children need to deal with these challenges won’t necessarily be those they learn at school.
We chose the sport of cycling as the medium because it was a sport which township children wanted to participate in – and one which, until the formation of the Academy, had excluded a large percentage of South Africa’s population.
We also chose cycling because we wanted to expose township children to a team sport that was aspirational, one that would take them out of their immediate environment and bring them into contact with the broader South African and international community, thereby encouraging social inclusion and allowing them to participate as equal members of society.
While we believe that sport should be an integral part of every child’s education, the reality is that many, if not most, township children do not have access to sporting facilities because their schools have limited or no sporting facilities.
This is why we, as Velokhaya, are most grateful to the far-sighted corporate sponsors – such as our anchor sponsor, Pick n Pay and others – and individual supporters who’ve not only made it possible for township children to participate in cycling, but in doing so, have invested in the future development and growth of South Africa through the empowerment of its youth.
Velokhaya’s cycling-based programmes target children from school-going age to those in their early 20s (predominantly children between the ages of 9-18). Both our BMX and road cycling programmes incorporate a cycle/road safety competent.
The BMX cycling programme aims to encourage mass participation in the sport in a safe, controlled environment while our road cycling programmes allow for participation in the sport of cycling.