Break Time Buddies Fight Obesity in South Africa

break-time-buddies-collageA key goal of INMED’s Health in Action (HIA) Program is increasing participation in physical activity—both through school-based physical education and leisure time recreation and play. A recent baseline survey indicates that 4 out of 10 children in Johannesburg are obese.  One way INMED South Africa is fighting this obesity epidemic is through an initiative called “Break-time Buddies” which forms part of the broader HIA program.

Break Time Buddies are out of school and unemployed youth who are recruited by INMED 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 also promoting nutrition and healthy lifestyles during daily recess time. INMED HIA Program Director Unathi Sihlahla reports that the Break-time Buddies have been extremely well received among teachers and school administrators. The initiative has also provided stable jobs and skills development for dozens of unemployed individuals between the ages of 18 – 35.

Through a strategic partnership with XCO Sports, an athletic equipment manufacturer based in Gauteng, each of the Break Time Buddies and all 116 HIA schools have been provided with  deeply discounted sport goodie bags consisting of soccer balls, rugby balls, netball balls, jump ropes, ball pumps and whistles for use during physical activity sessions.

It’s truly astounding what the power of partnerships can do to build healthier children and local economies around the world.