Olympic athletes and London schools run to beat world’s major child killer

  • Uploaded on 12 July 2012

Zindzi and Zoleka Mandela helped establish the Zenani campaign. Image courtesy Make roads safe

Olympic athletes from Jamaica and South Africa joined a group of London schools on 12 July 2012 to call for action to tackle the number one killer of children around the world. The athletes and kids ran on the school track as part of the ‘Zenani campaign’ for global road safety launched by Nelson Mandela’s family in memory of his great-granddaughter.

Some of the world’s fastest athletes and children from schools in Dulwich and Herne Hill, ‘ran for their lives’ on Alleyn’s School track to raise awareness of the need to beat the biggest killer of young people aged 10 and over globally. Together with the Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes group, local schools have been successfully campaigning for improved road safety over the past year and have now joined the Zenani campaign.

The Zenani campaign has been established by Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter together with the Road Safety Fund and the Make Roads Safe campaign. It is part of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Athletes who took part in the Zenani Mandela Olympic event include: Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, Olympic silver medallist Sherone Simpson, Olympic gold medallist Nesta Carter, IAAF champion Kaliese Spencer, African Javelin champion Sunette Viljoen and  African Triathlon champion Gillian Sanders.

The event took place just two weeks ahead of the London 2012 Olympics and is an initiative for Mandela Day, in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on 18 July. Zenani Mandela was just 13 years old when she was killed in a car crash in South Africa on the eve of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Her family have been campaigning in her name to protect children.

On behalf of the Jamaican athletes, Bruce James President of the elite MVP Track and Field Club said: "Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people worldwide but these deaths and injuries can be prevented. As we approach the London Olympics the world’s attention is upon us. We are here in London on the world stage so we are taking this opportunity to join the Zenani campaign and to call for action to save children’s lives.”

South African Olympic Triathlete Gillian Sanders said: “As an Olympic triathlete, I know just how important it is to have safe roads. I've had two personal friends lose their very young lives on the roads in separate incidents. It’s totally unacceptable that road crashes are the number one killer of young people worldwide. That’s why I’m calling for action to protect children on the roads both in South Africa and around the world.”

Laurie Johnston, Chair, Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School said: “Road accidents are one of the biggest killers of young people around the world. Here in Dulwich and Herne Hill, children, schools, residents and parents campaigned long and hard for lollipop people to safeguard our children on three busy local junctions. But much more needs to be done to keep children safe on our roads. Dulwich and Herne Hill Safe Routes to School is supporting the Zenani Mandela campaign to protect our children here and every child everywhere. Together we can and must do much more to provide a safe environment for all our children.”

Both the athletes and schools are supporting the Zenani campaign which is calling for key measures to reduce the death rate worldwide, including: safe crossings, footpaths and cycleways to school, tougher action to prevent drink driving and speeding, better protection for child passengers on motorcycles and in cars, and graduated driver licencing to help young novice drivers. In many countries around the world, these measures are lacking and are urgently needed to reduce the growing numbers of child fatalities and injuries.

Earl Jarrett General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society which helped organise the event said: “Jamaica National Building Society is pleased to have been associated with the Zenani Campaign for Road Safety. This all began through the JN Invitational Track Meet that took place between May 4th and 5th 2012 in Jamaica where dignitaries and athletes came together in support of the United Nation’s Decade of Action. We are delighted that we now find ourselves with this continued link between the South Africans and Jamaican athletes here in London in aid of road safety for our children worldwide.”

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