The SPAR Eastern Cape Women's Challenge in Port Elizabeth on March 21 will again play its role in assisting the community

The SPAR Women’s Challenge is the perfect opportunity for some fun and exercise, but the annual event’s influence extends far beyond the races which will take place in Port Elizabeth on March 21.

Thousands of women will compete in the 10km and 5km distances in Summerstrand and their presence is a major boost for the race’s beneficiaries.

SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and events manager Alan Stapleton said the race enabled them to support various charity causes.

“There is an ever-growing need to assist organisations who support the many young women who are unable to afford sanitary protection,” he said.

“We are proud to be able to hold hands with Options from George, The Community Chest and Khazimla Project who, in their way, all make a huge difference to many young girls’ lives.”

Khazimla will be involved in the race for the first time and director Renee Whittal said they were delighted to be one of the beneficiaries.

“Khazimla is a Xhosa word meaning to brighten or shine,” explained Whittal.

The SPAR Eastern Cape Women's Challenge in Port Elizabeth on March 21 will again play its role in assisting the community

The SPAR Eastern Cape Women’s Challenge in Port Elizabeth on March 21 will again play its role in assisting the community, with Khazimla Project, Options Care Centre and The Community Chest this year’s race beneficiaries. Photo: Leon Hugo

“Our primary objective is to ensure a brighter future for young women by ensuring that they remain in school.

“It is a known fact that schoolgirls in poor communities can miss between 30 and 50 school days a year because they don’t have adequate sanitary protection.

“Our goal is to provide primary school pupils with sufficient sanitary towels on a monthly basis to enable them to remain healthy and not miss school during their monthly cycle.”

She added that their connection with the Women’s Challenge was critical to spreading their message to a wider audience.

“In addition, the donations we receive will be passed on to our current beneficiary schools.”

Options Care Centre in George is also a first-time beneficiary and director Laurie Edwall said they were thrilled to be part of the event.

“Options Care Centre impacts and develops youth and families who face a pregnancy or an HIV crisis,” she said.

“The core of what we do involves counselling and also supporting those who are in crisis.

“Many of our clients are struggling with the pressures of lack of income and unemployment so we offer practical support such as clothing, toiletries and emergency food support.

“My understanding is that the donation will be used for sanitary ware for girls and women who face less fortunate circumstances. Because this meets the needs of our clients we all experience the joy of Options being a beneficiary.”

Also coming on board for the first time is The Community Chest in Nelson Mandela Bay, which partnered with SPAR EC in a successful Winter Woolly campaign last year.

Chief executive officer Selwyn Willis said they had a rich history of serving the community throughout the Eastern Cape since 1952.

“The Community Chest is a non-profit organisation that has played a central role in the welfare sector since 1952, with a strong focus on responsible giving and responsible transparent use of donor funding,” he said.

“Women play an integral role in our community, especially young girls who aspire to achieve great success in the future.

“As a beneficiary of the Women’s Challenge, this opportunity will enable us to empower young women to become more confident within themselves in order to realise their full potential and achieve anything they aspire to.”