In a ground breaking ceremony in Khayelitsha last week, Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy with the support of the MTN SA Foundation launched their state-of-the-art ICT and Life Skills Centre, with construction starting this month.
Khayelitsha’s bustling cycling academy is well known nationwide for developing and growing young champions, teaching them valuable life skills and above all, to become physically and emotionally stronger to make a success of their lives.
Velokhaya’s successful BMX programme has seen the rise of some cycling champions, such as Team Bonitas’ Luthando Kaka, BMX star Anita Zenani, Nicholas Dlamini of the MTN-Qhubeka Feeder Team and Songezo Jim, who rides for Team MTN-Qhubeka, South Africa’s first team to participate in the Tour de France this year.
Coming from an area where many of the children come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, MTN SA Foundation’s Corporate Social Investment initiative in partnership with Velokhaya will provide opportunity for some learners to improve their academic and cycling skills as well as have an environment conducive to do their homework.
In addition to the media centre, the new building will also have a gym and a bicycle repair centre.
The partnership between Velokhaya and the MTN SA Foundation has been strengthening for almost a year. Their invaluable contribution to the new project sees Velokhaya realise a dream in uplifting their community.
Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy General Manager, Sipho Mona, says that the MTN SA Foundation is supporting the organisation and the existing BMX programme and their backing of the ICT centre will provide the all-important infrastructure for the computer lab.
Explaining the importance of an ITC and Life Skills Centre for the community at large, Mona says, “This has been a dream of ours for a very long time. We can now take the support beyond cycling and into education as well. In Khayelitsha there are 50 primary schools, which only have access to two libraries. So it leaves very little chance for the learners to use the computer, as there are very few resources.
Building of the brand new centre starts this month.
“We approached the MTN SA Foundation and shared our vision. We wanted to create a sanctuary for our youth. It is all about education – we’ve been using the bicycle as a tool to promote education.”
The ICT and Life Skills centre has a two-pronged approach, where Mona sees the benefits as training both body and mind. “We’ll be promoting health and growing technology and education in the community.”
With as many as 20 computers anticipated for the lab, Mona says that the strong rules and regulations that apply to the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy members will be carried through into the operation and management of the new centre.
“Although there will be preferential treatment for the members of Velokhaya, the centre will be open to the community at large. Every house has its rules, and to create a sustainable project we will need a very strict procedure to monitor it. That’s how we have sustained ourselves for the past 10 years and it is our key to survival to grow our community’s well being.”
Cycling South Africa’s president, William Newman, said: “This is a prime example of how sport can be used to benefit communities and provide opportunities for our youth. We’ve seen how Team MTN-Qhubeka have excelled in their first year in cycling’s greatest race, the Tour de France, where they have had big mountains to climb. As with the MTN SA Foundation, this keeps in line with Team MTN-Qhubeka’s mission of Changing Lives.”