Celebrating our Youth in all their glory!
Ensure a healthy future for our children and celebrate our youth in all their glory as leaders of tomorrow.
(Getty Images)
June 16 is National Youth Day, which commemorates the start of the Soweto Riots of 1976, sparked off by a government edict that all instruction in black schools would be delivered in Afrikaans.

The iconic picture of Hector Pieterson, a black schoolchild shot by the police in Soweto near Johannesburg during a peaceful process march, brought home the brutalities of the Apartheid regime to many people within and outside of South Africa. In the weeks that followed over 700 people - mostly youth - were killed.

In commemorating this day South African’s are also celebrating their freedom and right to decide what life they want to live and who they want to be as individuals: from where to live, what to study, who to marry and what career to pursue.

It’s also paved the way for many people, young and old, to demand the right to be informed and educated about the world we live in. One of the fundamental rights for many South Africans especially the youth is still education and the health and wellness of children is dependent on education by schools, parents, and government and private organisations.

Sadly physical education and school sports are not priorities in many South African schools and signing up to private sports clubs is costly. In many households both parents work and lead very busy lives that leave little time for preparing nutritional food for kids at home and at school. And as the cost of food rises it’s becoming increasing difficult to fill ones fridge with healthy and wholesome ingredients. To add to the problem, the youth aren’t exercising as much as they used to at school and through socialising. The new way to socialise is to sit at home and chat to friends via the Internet.

Every year there is an increase in the rates of child obesity, ADHD, diabetes and other forms of disorders linked to bad nutrition and lack of physical activity. Just as adults need to eat healthy and exercise regularly to keep their blood pressure low, decrease their risk of heart attacks and diabetes, and keep their weight under control, so do children. There are much needed benefits children get from exercising.

Dohme Steynberg has a National Diploma in Sport and Exercise and has extensive experience with teaching children the importance of exercise. She owned her own Playball franchise for 12 years that offered basic fundamental sports skills to children from the ages of 2 – 9 years old and is most recently the owner of her own Adventure Boot Camp franchise in Montana, Pretoria. Here she coaches adult women within an outdoor boot camp environment.

In her career she’s observed that children who exercise regularly have stronger muscles and bones, they are less likely to be overweight and have well developed gross motor skills which helps them in school with reading and writing. She also says that exercise helps with blood flow in the brain and more oxygen support to the brain means improved memory and concentration. The brain releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, which act as feel good brain chemicals that aid in reducing depression and anxiety and increasing self-esteem.

Lack of physical education and bad nutrition has also been linked back to various learning disorders. Parent24 expert, Kathryn Kenyon has a BA in Linguistics and Psychology and a BA Honours in Psychology. APGCE in Secondary Education (English 1st and 2nd Language and Life Orientation) and has been teaching at special needs school in South Africa and London since 2000. She believes that exercise not only provides physical benefits in the form of weight and health management, but that there is more and more evidence that it helps with concentration and academics as well. “I have seen that fit kids do better in subjects like Maths and Languages, and are more likely to generally succeed at school.

I have seen children who spend a large amount of time playing on hand held game consoles who have developed arthritic conditions in their hands. These kids were 16 years old and needed to have access to laptops or scribes for exams as they could no longer hold a pen. There were no underlying conditions to cause this. It was purely lack of correct muscle use and lack of exercise. I have also seen children with extremely low muscle tone from lack of exercise. This affects posture, their immune systems and co-ordination. They are often clumsy and disorganised.”

The youth of South Africa deserve to be educated in a way that recognises their individual needs. However not all children are fortunate enough to receive special treatment should they suffer from a learning disability. So the buck stops with the parents to teach their children about the basics of health and wellness.

Adventure Boot Camp personal trainer and franchise owner, Dohme Steynberg suggests doing anything athletic with your child. Kick a soccer ball or throw a tennis ball, run around the garden if you can’t afford to take part in extra-mural sporting activities because starting the habit young will ensure your child’s adult life will be one that is fit and healthy. “Many of the women at my boot camp initially struggled to commit to coming to class.

Exercise never played a major role in their lives as children and as a result they have low muscle tone. Their weight loss journeys are much tougher and longer. However it’s easy to spot the ladies who have been exposed to sport their whole lives. Muscle has memory and for them to lose weight and tone up certain areas of their bodies is much easier and quicker.”

So to ensure a healthy future for our children and to celebrate our youth in all their glory as leaders of tomorrow we as adults need to secure their future by educating them about what it means to be a healthy and happy individual and be good role models by keeping fit ourselves. Exercise is an important part of life and so is what we eat. After all a healthy body is a healthy mind.

Happy Youth Day  

To find out more about Playball and how your child can benefit from this programme please go to www.playball.co.za. To start being a role model to the youth, call Adventure Boot Camp’s national head office on  021 447 27 46 / 082 567 2267 or go www.AdventureBootCamp.co.za, to find out about their female only outdoor exercise programmes for ladies over the age of 15.

Dohme Steynberg
  • N Dip.  Sport and exercise Technology 1996 -1999 (Tswane University of Technology)
  • Playball Franchise owner and trainer 2000 – 2012
  • ABC franchise owner in Montana, Pretoria. MONTANA (Brainline Learning World)

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