A recent survey indicates that 4 out of 10 children in Johannesburg are obese. One way INMED South Africa is fighting this obesity epidemic is through a new Health in Action initiative called “Break Time Buddies.” Break Time Buddies are unemployed youth who have graduated secondary school and are recruited by INMED via local school governing boards.
In partnership with tertiary institutions, such as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and Wits University in Johannesburg, they are trained to lead fun physical education activities while promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyles during daily recess at 116 schools. “This programme has enabled me to make a difference in my community.
Every time I visit schools I am welcomed by screams of kids competing for my attention,” says Samkelo Dumse, a Break Time Buddy in Kwa-Zakhele schools. In collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand’s Center for Exercise and Sports Medicine, Break Time Buddies receive classroom and hands-on training on the importance of physical education and strategies for encouraging children to be active. The training is followed by practical, participatory activities on how to prepare and deliver physical education lessons in primary schools.
Our Break Time Buddies have played a key role in organizing and demonstrating physical education lessons for teachers and students during class time in selected schools. Prior to these sessions, our local Health in Action programme monitors work closely with each Buddy on how to plan an educational session, followed by an evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses to build their capabilities, professionalism and confidence.
As a result, Break Time Buddies are highly regarded in the schools and have sparked the interest of other communities.