Everything’s gone green for women’s race

All participants to receive an indigenous spekboom plant

SPAR Eastern Cape events manager Alan Stapleton and Khayakazi Kepe get ready to plant a spekboom
SPAR Eastern Cape events manager Alan Stapleton and Khayakazi Kepe get ready to plant a spekboom
Image: Werner Hills

Though victory will await runners at the finish line, the biggest winner of this year’s SPAR Women’s Challenge in Port Elizabeth will be the environment.

Instead of the proceeds from the race – to be held on May 5 at Pollok Beach, Summerstrand – being donated to beneficiaries, SPAR Eastern Cape will break with tradition by using these funds to educate pupils and students about protecting the environment.

SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorship and events manager Alan Stapleton said the campaign would link up with the supermarket chain’s campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags in the province.

“We will be launching a campaign aimed at junior schools, senior schools and universities to educate and involve them in ongoing clean-up campaigns that they themselves will be able to drive,” Stapleton said.

“These institutions will be asked to present proposals [adhering to certain] criteria, which SPAR Eastern Cape, in turn, will then assist in funding.

“The idea is that they would do clean-up campaigns in the vicinity of their schools or universities.

“In so doing, they would help to make the city a cleaner, better place.

“In doing the clean-up and being involved, we can spread the word of keeping the environment clean, of re-using, as well as change mindsets and get people into a habit of recycling wherever possible.”

Spekboom plants
Spekboom plants
Image: Werner Hills

In addition to funding, Stapleton said all participants would receive an indigenous spekboom plant.

These resilient plants bring many benefits to the environment, with research showing an average patch of spekboom can absorb up to four tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.

It is also drought-tolerant and edible. “We hope this gift will further re-emphasise the benefits of looking after the environment for the sake of future generations.

“The race, while being a lot of fun, and a gathering of family, will therefore also stand as a means to focus on SPAR Eastern Cape’s focus on a healthy lifestyle, a healthy environment, and celebrating women and all of their strengths.”

Why spekoom:

All SPAR Women’s Challenge participants will receive an indigenous spekboom plant.

Spekboom is truly the wonder plant of the Eastern Cape.

Due to its nutritious value, it is the diet of choice for our Eastern Cape elephants.

But it is not just this quality that makes the spekboom integral to our province, it is its singular ability to bounce back from hardships that makes it stand out from the crowd.

While it provides life to elephants, this gift comes at the ultimate price. It is stripped from all foliage, its branches are snapped and it is trampled into the ground - over and over again.

But yet, this resilient plant emerges from the dust to regenerate itself, sprout new leaves and establish new roots as it forges on to fulfil its centuries-old destiny: To be part of the circle of life for our elephants.

While other less hardy plants wilt at the daily challenges that are thrown at them, the spekboom flourishes.

As the women of our society, we can pay no greater tribute than adopting these fertile, strong plants as a symbol of our role in life.

Like the spekboom, we have been given the gift of resilience to make sure there is always a support structure in our community - no matter how many times our spirit is broken and we are kicked to the ground.

In the face of adversity, we are the constant that makes sure our families bounce back from life's highs and lows.

At this year's SPAR Women's Challenge, each of us will receive the gift of a spekboom to remind us that we are stronger than we think and, as we plant these, that we are integral in building this community of ours.

A wonder plant for wonder women, and for the future of our children.

-Roseann Shadrach                                                                           SPAR Eastern Cape