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16 September 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Smoothie Bike challenge
The Smoothie Bike Challenge feeds the body, soul and the mind in support of mental health awareness.

Smoothie lovers at the University of the Free State (UFS) pedalled furiously to create their favourite drink. The Smoothie Bike Challenge was recently introduced to the Bloemfontein Campus community by the Division for Organisational Development and Employee Wellness.

Blending bikes and berries

Kovsies staff members were invited to pop a handful of berries and bananas into a blender attached to a specially adapted bike that uses pedal power to turn the ingredients into a refreshing drink. 

Blending physical exercise and healthy eating is one way to ensure holistic health. The division wanted to raise awareness around mental health and the effects that fitness and healthy food have on the mind. 

Wheelie good fun

“The purpose of this initiative was to involve employees in a fun way to use their bodies to make a healthy drink. Individuals of all fitness levels could participate,” said Burneline Kaars, head of the organisational development and employee wellness division.

A precursor to Mental Health Awareness month

Participants provided the energy to make the smoothie and Employee Wellness provided the ingredients but the initiative also created awareness around mental health. This comes weeks before the country officially enters Mental Health Awareness month.

According to the government: “The month of October has been declared Mental Health Awareness month with the objective of not only educating the public about mental health but to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illness are often subjected to.”

An estimated 400 million people worldwide suffer from mental or neurological disorders or experience psychosocial problems. Initiatives such as the Smoothie Bike Challenge are some of the ways in which the UFS is attempting to ensure that staff members are taken care of and do not become statistics. In the light of these numbers, it is evident that continuous efforts are necessary to tackle the issue.

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