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03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Vhugala Nthakheni
Uhuru Qwaqwa Arrival
The #UFSWalkToUhuru team arrives at the UFS Qwaqwa Campus on Friday 22 March.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Division of Student Affairs, in collaboration with the UFS Office for International Affairs, have joined hands to drive a fundraising and student-accessibility initiative dubbed, ‘The Walk to Uhuru’ (#UFSWalktoUhuru), which is aimed at raising funds and advocating for the educational rights of the less privileged. 

The project aims to raise funds in excess of R2 million from the public and stakeholders affiliated with the UFS (Kovsie staff and students). The project derives from the 2018/2019 UFS Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) mandate ‘Students Must Graduate’. The ISRC mandate aims to source funding opportunities for UFS students to register, and to complete their studies across all three campuses in 2020 and beyond.

The first leg of the project, a 350 km walk from the Bloemfontein to the Qwaqwa Campus, has already taken place and concluded on Friday, 22 March 2019 as planned. The #UFSWalkToUhuru team successfully completed the first leg of their journey to academic freedom for financially disadvantaged students at the UFS. The Uhuru team is now focusing its attention on the second leg and is determined to take on Mount Kilimanjaro (Uhuru) from 20 June to 20 July 2019.

The team sat down for a debriefing session to unpack the overall experience and result of the first half of the initiative, and they all agreed that the walk to Qwaqwa was an enlightening experience. It was a walk that comprised learning opportunities, team building, and goal crushing.

According to Rethabile Motseki, member of the #UFSWalkToUhuru team, the walk to Qwaqwa made a significant impact on the project, as the university community is now aware of the significant goals that the team is trying to accomplish. The team has also resumed their fitness-training programme to ensure that they are ready to take on the Uhuru climb in June.

A media briefing will take place shortly (date to be confirmed) to detail the ongoing fundraising initiatives rolled out by the #UFSWalkToUhuru team.  We implore you, and the nation as a whole, to help establish a better future for disadvantaged UFS students by donating to the initiative.

Students, staff, and the public can support the cause and make contributions/donations to the initiative by visiting the UFS Walk to Uhuru #givengain account page.

For more information, contact UFS SRC President, Sonwabile Dwaba, on DwabaSJ@ufs.ac.za  or Rethabile Motseki on MotsekiR@ufs.ac.za  

News Archive

Horse-riding therapy improves self-confidence in children
2016-05-10


This group of Honours students in Psychology at the University of the Free State was honoured with the best postgraduate Service Learning award at the prize-giving function of the Faculty of the Humanities. From the left are Adriana de Vries, Hershel Meyerowitz, Simoné le Roux, Wijbren Nell, Melissa Taljaard, and Gerán Lordan. Photo: Marizanne Cloete.

Horse-riding therapy helps to improve self-confidence in children, and changes their perception of themselves. It puts them in a totally new environment where they can be free of any judgement.

According to Wijbren Nell, who achieved his Honours degree in Psychology at the University of the Free State (UFS), this is the ideal therapy when working with children with disabilities. He said it was amazing to see how they developed.

He was part of a group of Honours students in Psychology who received the best postgraduate Service Learning award in the Faculty of the Humanities for their community project. In 2015, this project by Wijbren, Hershel Meyerowitz, Gerán Lordan, Melissa Taljaard, Simoné le Roux, and Adriana de Vries, was part of their module Community and Social Psychology. They were honoured at the Faculty’s prize-giving function on 15 April 2016.

Purpose of project

“Our purpose with the project was to demonstrate to the children that they could still accomplish something, despite their disabilities,” Wijbren said. The students work on a weekly basis with learners from the foundation phase of the Lettie Fouché School in Bloemfontein. Marie Olivier’s Equistria Therapeutic Development Trust serves as the site for the community project. She has a long standing partnership with the UFS.

Horse-riding and therapy

According to Wijbren, the idea was to stimulate the psychomotor functioning of the children, as well as to promote their psychological well-being. He said research has shown that there is incredible therapeutic value in horse-riding. In this specific case, it has improved the children’s self-confidence, as they may have a poor self-image as a result of their disabilities.

“At the beginning of the year, there was a girl who didn’t even want to come close to a horse, let alone getting onto the horse. We kept on trying, and, once she was on the horse, we couldn’t get her down. This was the amazing thing about the project,” said Wijbren.

Award a surprise

Wijbren said the award was a honour and surprise to his group. He was full of praise for Dr Pravani Naidoo, a lecturer in Psychology at the UFS, who coordinates the therapeutic horse riding project. “She has a tremendous passion for this project, and challenged us to think on our feet. She is a real inspiration.”

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