Parents and children who take on the SPAR Family Challenge next Saturday will be helping to reunite less fortunate families throughout Buffalo City.
Funds from the second edition of the event – which consists of a 5km fun run and 9.8km race for more serious athletes – will benefit the East London Child and Youth Care Centre (ELCYCC), which has been engaged in the process of building healthier and happier families since 1924.
“It is wonderful to receive much-needed financial assistance as well as acknowledgement for the work we do,” said ELCYCC fundraiser Larne Robus.
“This event could not suit our organisation better. We work with challenges on a daily basis, whether it be childcare related, financial or with the families of the children in care.
“Our core function is to help families with challenges to overcome them and empower them to become self-sufficient so that they can deal with future problems without the need for external intervention.”
She said the centre’s main function had previously been residential care for vulnerable children from disadvantaged communities or dysfunctional families.
The residential programme currently creates a sense of family and belonging for 105 youngsters, from birth to 18 years.
“We work towards empowering the children with the skills to be reunited and reintegrated with their families and communities.”
However, Robus said the widespread need in the local communities of Ncera Village and the Fort Grey informal settlement had necessitated a wider preventative focus.
Thus the Isibindi project, meaning “courage” in Xhosa, was created to equip these communities with the life skills and knowledge to prevent the need for child removal and alternative care.
The community-based programme currently provides preventative care services for 856 children and their families who are infected and affected by HIV/Aids.
“It has had a huge impact on the lives of the people involved,” said Robus.
“We’ve seen a large decrease in child removals but there is still more work that needs to be done.”
She said ongoing challenges included lack of awareness, lack of community involvement, insufficient host families and disinterest from the children’s parents and families.
“But our major challenge has always been finances. Over the years we have lost funds due to the tough economic times everyone is facing.”
While the centre does receive financial support from the department of social development, it is a minimal amount that has not been increased in the past seven years, leaving them reliant on donor support.
“We are working towards finding financial stability. The funds from the SPAR Family Challenge will certainly help us in reaching this goal and aid in providing for the needs of the children.”
SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorship controller Roseann Shadrach said the ELCYCC had a proud and longstanding history in serving East London.
“They do an incredible job in the city. They aim to avoid duplicating services but rather network with other organisations where possible to provide comprehensive services throughout communities in need.”
The event starts at the Beaconhurst Sports Grounds at 1pm.
Enter at www.sparfamilychallenge.co.za before October 7. Alternatively, collect an entry form from any SPAR, SUPERSPAR or KWIKSPAR store or cycle shop in East London.
For more information, find SPAR EC in Action on Facebook or @SPAR_EC.