Richard helps Virgin celebrate success of Alexandra Township project
- Feb 04, 2009
In 2005, Virgin Active in conjunction with Virgin Unite opened a community gym in Alexandra Township, in response to a request from a granny to keep her grandson off the streets.
Virgin Active sponsored the equipment for the gym as well as providing the necessary training. Since then, the project has flourished into a Community Centre serving the neighbourhood as need areas are identified. The Ikasi Gym and members of the community of Alexandra Township had the privilege of a visit from Sir Richard Branson and a group of business men and women from across the United States and United Kingdom as part of a ‘Wake up trip’ organised by Virgin Unite. The success behind this project will now be used as the framework to roll out some more of these facilities across South Africa.
The team at the Ikasi Gym are currently running the following programmes from the facility:
- Body Building Team: A group of young men from the community have been training together and have entered body building competitions in and around Johannesburg. The group also now does workshops at schools and motivates young people to develop dreams and passion to avoid falling into the poverty cycle.
- Running/Walking group: Despite the space constraints, this did not deter the team from pursuing additional ways to engage the community. For the past two years, they’ve been doing aerobics classes in the road with a group of about 30 women and have expanded this to doing regular running and walking as part of their fitness regime.
- Rehabilitation for stroke patients: One can describe this programme as restoring hope where hope has been lost. Within Alexandra Township there are many elderly people who have suffered strokes, who are not by means to make it to hospital or clinics for physiotherapy treatment. One of the gentlemen in the community then approached the gym to assist in this regard. Since then, Tumi (the owner) has taken it upon himself to obtain the necessary training and advice from physiotherapists in order to assist these patients. Because of the close proximity between their homes and the gym, they can now manage to go for physiotherapy up to four times per week and as a result a few of them are close to regaining their full strength.
- Twilight kids: This is the newest programme offered by Ikasi Gym. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of street children in an around the community of Alexandra. The twilight kids programme is aimed at taking these kids off the streets, bringing them into the gym during the day to distract them from the negative influences on the streets and to find shelter for them in homes and places of safety.
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