The UJ Future Walk returned on Saturday, 30 September 2023, after a five-year hiatus, with more than 200 participants converging at the AW Muller Stadium to walk in aid of students who cannot fully pay their tuition fees.
Participants walked through the Auckland Park Bunting Road (APB) Campus’ walkways to complete a 2.5km, 5km, and 8km walking/running distances, including a 100m run for kids.
The event was led by UJ Sport in partnership with the UJ Development and Fundraising Office, and saw participation from dignitaries like the UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Letlhokwa Mpedi, the UJ Chief Financial Officer Ms Nolwazi Mamorare, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Professor Daniel Mashao, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic (Acting) Professor Sarah Gravett, Chair of UJ Council Ms Xoliswa Kakana, and Executive Directors of various UJ divisions.
Walking for health and education
Speaking after completing his 9km walk, Prof Mpedi said, “There are two reasons why we are here. Firstly, to be physically active is good for one’s health. We must encourage people to lead an active lifestyle through exercise. That’s part of the UJ Sport mission. Secondly, we win in the process of participating in the UJ Future Walk because whatever small contribution we make by buying tickets goes into supporting academically deserving but needy students. In that way, we change the lives of our students, their families, and the communities they come from. Afterall, education is a human right.”
Ms Mamorare added, “I feel fantastic after walking 5km during the UJ Future Walk. I have been part of the walkathon since its conception in 2015 and it’s lovely to see the event come back onto our annual University calendar. It’s extremely important for people to get involved in the fundraising walk. As you know, the state of our economy means that a lot of our students and their parents cannot afford to pay their fees. We also see a sharp decline in the level of subsidies we are receiving from the state. So, we really need everybody to get involved in helping us help these students get the education they deserve.”
Also speaking after completing an 8km walk, Ms Kakana said “I feel energized and I can actually go for another round. This initiative touched my heart hence I mobilised some friends and colleagues to be part of the walk to give financial support to our needy students. I promise you, I will make sure that I am here again in the next UJ Future Walk.”
Dr Nolitha Vukuza, the Senior Executive Director: University Relations, UJ Sport and Student Affairs handed over medals to all the participants. “I dare say everybody is inspired. It’s a beautiful day, the weather is clear and everyone is in good spirits. Of course, we are doing this for the future of our students who deserve to be at UJ but do not have the necessary means to pay for their fees,” said Dr Vukuza.
Winner of the 5km run, Trevor Steyn from Johannesburg south, said he felt overwhelmed to win the 5km category for a good cause. “I run twice a week to keep fit. I saw the UJ social media posts about the UJ Future Walk and decided to join and be part of the changemakers. This is a good initiative, keep it up UJ,” he said.
Sr. Miemie Geya, Director: UJ Centre for Student Health and Wellness, walked the 5km distance in 40 minutes. After the walk, Sr. Geya said, “I feel good, I was out of breath for a short while, but I am fine. It’s important that we do this to stay healthy and prevent the non-communicable diseases. This is going to be an annual event, for those who have not joined this year please join us next year. The walkathon has a dual benefit; to help our academically deserving but needy students and good health purposes.”
Youngster Bokang said he walked to get an extra steps for his health and to help give to those who want to get education. “To the young people out there, I’d like to encourage them to join initiatives like the UJ Future Walk to keep fit and in the process help students get educated.”
Bokang said he wants to join the UJ Basketball Club after completing his matric.
Virgin Active fitness instructors, Lulu and Eddy from Maponya Mall and Glenvista, led the participants in warming up and cooling down exercises before and after the walk to help them avoid cramps and injuries.
The UJ Future Walk is a vibrant and engaging event that promotes active living and supports students in need. It is a great opportunity for people of all ages and fitness levels.