Communities Wellness Solutions
This is a story about a community, about a man’s faith in his community and how we met.
In 2017 I had total bilateral hip replacement surgery, I was born with a disorder where at age 42 both my thigh bones were cut off and replaced with a mechanism. It would take me altogether two years to learn to walk and recover from this life changing event. I set out a goal to strengthen my body through cycling and train to ride a 109km bike race, to raise funds towards Qhubeka bicycles for school children and woman in near by community.
Through a series of fortunate events few months after my surgery I saw a group of young children cycling past me. I watched the children as the man cycled in front, slowed down, encouraged everyone in the group as they passed him and set back following them. Then again repeated this few times back and forth. There was a sense of great patience and respect between the children and this man that propelled the group forward. One day I managed to speak to the group and ask why they are cycling.
This man’s name is Jimmy James, he is from Ocean View, South Peninsula, South Africa. Here is the interview with Jimmy about his dreams and his love for the community.
Why are you cycling with the children?
“I am from Ocean View. When I was young things were different in our community. Today our community faces many challenges and as a result our children can not live a carefree childhood. In December 2012 I started a bicycle initiative called Communities Wellness Solutions for children 4-18 years of age. This is a school holiday and an after school activity program that offers children an opportunity to have fun rides out of Ocean View and on a BMX track. Initially, with bicycles we received from Pedals For Peace (PFP) we gathered some footage to present to PFP in appreciation of their support. Mid 2017 the PFP team managed to gather some funding to build the BMX track and we received 12 BMX bikes from Bicycle Empowerment Network (BEN) and 14 more from David Bellairs (head of CTCT) and his sponsors.
Today we have over 500 children on our list that wish to take part of the CWS project and a few ladies from our community, the oldest member being 65 years of age. We welcome everyone that wishes to have a change in lifestyle through cycling. The project has inspired my wife Mastoera to join in with cycling as well as helping me and our community to be informed about all the CWS activities through FB for everyone who wishes to join for fun or to develop skills. In 2019, Mastoera has formed a woman team with eight ladies, they trained together and after much perseverance they made our community proud by finishing the 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour in March 2020″
How did all of this start, why specifically a bicycle initiative?
” I come from a construction background trained as an electrician. My trade has taken me to many cities in different countries. Bicycles have always been my preferred mode of transport where ever I was. In the beginning of 2012 I agreed to a collaboration with BEN to convert an empty shipping container into a bicycle workshop which is situated on the Ocean View School grounds. The bike shop is called OV Cycleworx where we buy, sell, repair, maintain and also offer mechanical skills to young people showing interest, even the little ones are trained to at least be able to do a puncture repair on their own bikes.
It all started with this one shipping container that over the years got filled with spares, broken parts, donated bicycles and a few tools. Today, 8 years later, together with the help of friends, our community, NGOs and kind donations, through the hard work and perseverance of our children and woman, we have a productive Communities Wellness Solutions program that is a joy and means of upliftment to many”
What do you see for the future of Communities Wellness Solutions and the Ocean View community?
“This area used to be a farming community, my generation comes with our predecessors knowledge about growing food. As a community we have for many years been putting focus on food security and working toward upliftment of our children’s lifestyle. Mid 2018, Justin Benello started with the Neighbourhood Farm Project. They became our neighbours on the Ocean View school grounds and we were always keen on working together as we all are the Ocean View community. Ten agri-entrepreneurs completed their training in 2020, rebranded as Ocean View Organic Farmers and have taken full responsibility for the site.
Working in collaboration with the Ocean View Organic Farmers, the Ocean View community, our children and who ever wishes to live a more holistic lifestyle, the vision is to create a space where information is shared to offer opportunities to educate, up the skills, create employment within our community that will lead to good relationships with surrounding communities.
Our motto is: ‘Healthy lifestyle, healthy mind’ , meaning ‘ Having self-respect we will learn or know to respect another’ “
To follow their events or make donations towards the projects:
Thank you Jimmy James and the whole Ocean View community for sharing this inspiring story and participating in the photoshoot with Love & Rockets
Video: Kristina Stojiljkovic
Interview: Kristina Stojiljkovic and Jimmy James
Photography: Kristina Stojiljkovic