Saturday, 18 July 2009, was a special day for many of the youth attending Kidzpositive clinics. Not only was it Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday, but it was also Kidzpositive’s Adolescent Fun Day at Ratanga Junction, which we shared with the Gugulethu Adolescent Clinic run by the Desmond Tutu Foundation.
A great deal of activity and planning culminated in this much anticipated Fun Day outing for the adolescents attending these two ARV clinics.
Holding thumbs works: We awoke to a beautiful, crisp, sunny winter’s day, a welcome respite from the previous days of Cape Town rain. Thanks to the Siyasanda Foundation, which organized the day, over 100 excited teenagers piled into buses early on this Saturday morning.
At Ratanga, one volunteer and four adolescents carried out a reconnaissance. All the youth had their favourite rides: The Bushwhaker and Congo Queen and the infamous Cobra for the braver souls: 'It was such fun, it felt like my body was flying through the air .' Lunch was accompanied by spontaneous group renditions of recent pop hits, but not for long. Everyone was eager to get back to the rides.
Mid-afternoon was dedicated to hand-painting. Everyone was asked to put a hand print onto a sheet, which became a huge Mandela Birthday card. There was loud cheering and shouts of 'Happy Birthday Mr. Mandela'.
One wonders how many of these children would have been alive to enjoy this fun-filled day had it not been for the start of their ARV treatment 5 to 6 years ago. We are grateful for the benefits of treatment and the efforts of NGOs and volunteers, which have had profound effects on the wellbeing of our young patients. Mandela’s fight for freedom has also been a fight for a better quality of life for all children - with and without HIV and AIDS.
This day at Ratanga Junction provided our youthful patients with a care-free experience and an opportunity to socialize; and perhaps to forget their everyday burdens. The group arrived back at Groote Schuur hospital late in the afternoon. Despite tired and aching bodies, laughter and a happy buzz were evidence of a fun-filled and successful Adolescent Fun Day at Ratanga Junction.
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