In celebration of their 20th birthday, the Community Health Intervention Programmes (CHIPs) of the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA) is rolling out a series of 5km fun walk/runs in conjunction with communities involved in the partnership.
Established in 1997 – the CHIPS programmes were designed to make exercise and a healthy lifestyle more accessible to previously disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape showing an interest and some initiative. With the ever-burdening incidence of obesity and other non-communicable diseases- such as hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, the need was great. CHIPs overarching goal is to encourage a culture of health, wellness and an active lifestyle through regular physical activity and health education.
The programmes target people of all ages from five years old to “mature” adults and all are scientifically designed with UCT’s Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine having conducted research on the CHIPs model. Healthnutz for 5-12 year olds, introduces the youngsters to fun, non-competitive physical activity twice a week, via the services of 75 dedicated teachers. Currently implemented in 6 primary schools and 7 creches, it impacts more than 2500 children in the Western Cape. For the 15 – 60 years olds – OptiFit Outreach is where it’s at. This programme provides its 1200 members in 8 different branches, with a cheap and convenient exercise setting in the heart of their community. For just R30 a month, which is used to purchase additional exercise equipment, the members train twice a week, have regular monitoring of their weight, blood pressure and resting pulse and receive a report to accompany their results.
Live it Up is the programme for older adults and it is offered twice weekly in 16 communities at community centres, senior clubs or places of worship. It reaches more than 700 members who are guided through predominantly seated exercise to improve their muscle strength and balance. There is also an educational component that focuses on chronic disease management and coping with the challenges associated with ageing. If OptiFit Outreach is a bit too strenuous and Live it Up is not enough of a challenge – then members slot into OptiFit Lite which is run at all the OptiFit Outreach branches.
SSISA’s Marlene Coetzee-George, who managed the introduction of the CHIPS programmes into communities – has much of which to be proud. The beauty of the model – is that it involves plenty of initiative from the communities and in fact – it is up to a community to approach CHIPs if they are interested in an offering. After much consultation and sorting out the logistics – the CHIPs staff initially run the community programmes. However- in the early stages – potential trainers are identified and the CHIPs staff train the trainers. In a phased manner – there is more and more responsibility handed over to the community – who eventually takes ownership of the programme. That said – the CHIPs staff remain involved and up skill new trainers, regularly check that the programmes are running smoothly, offer continuing education and organise regular fun and motivating mass participation events for participating CHIPs communities. The end result is sustainable programmes with committed leaders in eager communities; the regular input of SSISA experts and of course healthier, happier communities.
Says an enthusiastic Coetzee-George “our theme for this celebratory 5km road show is Run your personal best race. It kicked off last weekend in Kuils River with over 150 participants and Futurelife has come on board as a partner for the series. The final mass participation event will take place at the Chrysalis Academy on 18 November- with a scenic 7.2km trail walk/run being one of the highlights of the day”.
The events are open to all and boast an entry fee of just R10 per adult and R5 per child. Seasoned CHIPs members will also be afforded the opportunity to “Accumulate a Marathon” by participating in each of the races. Registration kicks off at 7h00 and the actual events starts at 8h30. Contact Juandre Davids on the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. Also follow our weekly advice and training programme in the Community Newspapers which will prepare you to walk or run 5km in 6 weeks.