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The Go Jozi healthy lifestyle campaign – initiated by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks

Tau in Thokoza Park, Soweto, in May last year to boost the city’s life expectancy – has moved up a

gear.

At the crack of dawn on Saturday 29 November, City officials descended on Poortje, south of

Johannesburg, where a throng of residents had gathered to take part in a street fair.

The festival – which included a 5km fun walk, aerobics and swimming lessons – was aimed at

encouraging residents to engage in physical activity in order to keep lifestyle diseases and

conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity at bay. Scores of residents took part

in the 5km fun walk, children attended swimming lessons while other people participated in

aerobics. Instructors had their hands full as more than 200 children gathered around them, showing

eagerness to learn.

Men and women were also seen queueing up to be screened for high blood pressure, diabetes,

cholesterol and prostate cancer. Old Mutual and Panomar Gel were some of the stakeholders that had

set up tables at Aganang Primary School to conduct the tests for free.

Nomsa Nkosi of the City’s Health and Social Development said the Go Jozi programme was all about

educating and encouraging community members to take care of their health and to help deal with

communicable diseases. “We’ve already gone to all seven regions promoting the importance of a

healthy lifestyle,” Nkosi said. “We’re also looking at how we can have, say, healthy fortified

kotas because that is what people eat. We’re running a competition to see who can come up with the

healthiest kota.”

Nkosi said the City was also training women who cook for children at early childhood development

centres and faith-based organisations as well as traditional healers to offer healthier options.
The City’s Public Health Manager, Tebogo Mabubulu, said some of the residents were not even aware

they were suffering from some of these conditions.

“After testing them, we refer some to the clinic for treatment. We have to enforce treatment and

educate them on why it is important not to stop taking their medication. Non-communicable diseases

are a big challenge,” Mabubulu said. Dipuo Mokoena, 57, of Orange Farm Extension 8, has embraced

this message.

She said she and other elderly people in her community exercised daily and ate fresh vegetables

from their gardens. “Go Jozi is a great programme. It also keeps the children off the streets. I

feel healthier and have a lot of energy. From Monday to Thursday, between 8am and 9am, we have an

aerobics class. I also check my BP and cholesterol regularly,” said Mokoena.

Ayanda Mbandezi, founder of the Ministry Team Youth Club, also praised the street fair, saying it

had helped raise awareness on a number of issues.

The club has 67 members aged between 17 and 31 and meets daily to sing, dance and share

information. Members perform at events over weekends to keep themselves busy and off the streets.