Township kids discover community on the bike

 

Gloves on, helmets strapped, eyes trained on the path ahead. And the kids of Zwelisha are off, the metal frames of their bikes glinting in the sunlight. Flashes of neon disrupt the brown surrounds as they snake through the township. Steered by Colin Mathebula, a new generation of cyclists is taking over the streets.

“I also come from a background like these kids,” Mathebula says. “There were people who saw something in me and gave me a chance to live again”. Now he’s continuing the cycle of upliftment by restoring second-hand bikes for the Zwelisha Kids Club. The after-school centre harnesses the underutilised energy of the children. “When the youth get bored they sometimes turn to drugs or alcohol and it is our mission to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he explains. Over 60 bicycles have already been donated and restored to keep the spirit of cycling moving through the community.

The club hosted its first cycling challenge this year, encouraging participation in the community. But there’s a competitive element as well. “Two of our kids were part of the top five of the Mopani MTB series,” boasts Mathebula. With an outlet for their energy, they’re gaining focus, excelling at school and setting a new pace for their lives.