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Media Release

23 February, 2007

Olympic medallist leads the way for new schools sport initiative

Statement by Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape

South African runner and Olympic medalist, Elana Meyer, will lead the way next week for a new campaign that promotes after-school sport across the Cape.

The campaign, called "For the sake of our lives" kicks off on Monday 26 February when she, together with Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore, SA 1,500m record holder Johan Landsman and about 30 learners, will run from Modderdam High School to Arcadia High School in Bonteheuwel.

They will pass a symbolic baton of peace and friendship to fellow pupils. The run will start from 07h00 from the school.

Over the next two weeks, learners from eleven different schools from around Cape Town will run from school to school on a journey of hope that will start in Bonteheuwel and end in Khayelitsha.

"This campaign uses sport as a vehicle for community development, as sport goes hand in hand with safety and security, health, education, nutrition and other related issues," says Meyer, who in her career has set five world records, 23 South African records and has won a World Cup as well as a silver medal in the 10,000 meters Barcelona Olympics.

"We want to keep children out of trouble, out of gangs and out of drugs and into sports programmes, preferably after school to fill the time while their parents are still at work. It is then when they are most vulnerable. We want children to realise how important sport is, and how important it is to have and keep a healthy body and a healthy mind.

"We hope these two weeks will be a foundation for sustainable running programmes at the schools."

It is not the first youth-focused sports initiative Meyer is supporting. Just recently she was appointed as Executive Director of the JAG Sports and Education Foundation, which will be launched on 3 April this year. The Foundation will provide opportunities for young South Africans to help them change their lives and pursue their dreams.

Says Meyer: "After I retired from racing in 2005, I became involved with various projects to empower, to encourage others to live life to the fullest and to make a difference to the less privileged children of South Africa who do not have the means to pursue their dreams and passions."

MEC Dugmore, who is enthusiastically spearheading this initiative, comments: "If you want to be physically fit, you donít take drugs. If you are out for a run, then youíre not bored. If groups of people are out running together then they look after one another and are re-claiming our streets for recreation. Put quite simply - this is really a life and death matter".

He added that this is part of a holistic drive for "A safe learning home for all" - "The adult runners from the community who will join our learners will be showing their solidarity and linking with the celebrity athlete role models.

"I also like the way schools will be crossing borders and linking with other schools. Our community-school initiative, our safety campaign, our partnerships with others in government - the whole range of seamless solutions to the erosion of community, safety and of well-being - will all be illustrated in this symbolic run."

MEC Dugmore says this is a pilot, which will be assessed. "The programme will be an important part of our examination of how schools can form community hubs. We are pleased that the plan is holistic, community-based and innovative."

"We are thrilled by the huge support and enthusiastic response we have received. We hope that spectators will be motivated by the sight of the young runners who will be running for hope. We have every intention of massifying this initiative".

Greg James, Founder of the JAG Sports and Education Foundation, which will be officially launched on 3 April says, "Our initiative is already gaining momentum thanks to people like Elana and especially SAís top motivational speaker, Gayton McKenzie, who has been very supportive of our cause."

Issued by: HWB Communications and the Western Cape Education Department

Contact: Christine Skinner 021 462 0416 or Gert Witbooi 082 550 3938.
Email: christine@hwb.co.za

On behalf of: JAG Investment Group
Contact: Larry Worthington-Fitnum
Tel: 021 702 7884
Fax: 021 701 2957

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

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