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Wentworth Bike Park a Beacon of Hope & Safe Haven For Kids

The Go!Durban Cycle Academy Wentworth Bike Park stands as a Beacon of Hope & a Safe Haven to youngsters in the area.

Wentworth Bike Park - Image: Charles Ash

A vibrant and thriving Bike Park in Wentworth stands as a beacon of hope to youngsters in the area who benefit from the various free activities at the park.

Situated in K1 Park, the Go!Durban Cycle Academy Wentworth Bike Park has facilitators coaching about 200 children a week with programmes that they believe will make a positive impact on the lives of the children who attend.

On a recent stint in Durban we met with the Wentworth Bike Park Site Manager Jean Choudree, Sydell Wilson who is the coach, Romano Jacobs, who is also a coach and the site assistant and Lorraine Ogle-Davies who was there in her capacity as a life coach and community activist.


A former school teacher, Jean Choudree took the lead on the vision that the park could become a hub of activity as a safe space for youngsters in the area. The bike park would be ideal in steering them away from the social ills that plague the community.

She says that there were already similar projects underway in other parts of Durban with bike parks in Cornubia, eNanda, KwaMashu, Chesterville and KwaDabeka, so the project was not unique.

Champion Cyclist Initiated The Bike Park Concept 

“The initiative was started by Shaun Peschl, former South African champion cyclist and businessman who founded the Go!Durban Cycling Academy with funding from German sponsors.”
“He was the one who brought the idea to our ward councillor.”

Jean Choudree began working towards the project in 2019 while she was a ward committee member who held the Sports, Recreation and Culture portfolio.

“After a lot of negotiations with the city, that is the municipality, they came on board. Then there was the Ethekwini Transport Association that came on board along with the then implementing agent for the project, Green Corridor, which is known for its involvement in the Blue Lagoon project. Another funder that came on board was the DFFE, that’s the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.”

The Wentwiorth Bike Park track with facilities in the background – Image: Charles Ash

The German bank KFW which is a main long-term funder regularly monitors the project and are responsible for having provided the workshop and storage facilities for the bicycles, the kitchen, a classroom and ablution facilities at the bike park.

Getting Community Buy-In

With the city having allocated half of the K1 Park to the project, they finally broke ground in 2022 to get it up and running.

“When we started working on the idea there was all of the red tape and bureaucracy that came into play and then of course we also had to face the community. Before it all started I had to sit in this park and get buy-in from the community around here so we got signatures and made sure we went through all the right channels.”
“Originally, before I was on board, the councillor had already had authorities here and spoke to the community. Only then was I brought on board because it was my portfolio.” 

The whole idea then went quiet for a long time until Jean approached the councillor and started pushing to let it go ahead again.
“I was then given the right of way to contact all the entities involved and that is how I got to run the project.”

Jean Choudree also had to address objections from some sectors in the community and she had the difficult task of convincing them why certain things had to happen in a certain ways, but she prevailed and the Wentworth Bike Park is a reality today.

It took around three months for the grounds to be prepared and the track to be laid and then the container units with the different facilities were delivered already kitted out and furnished.
“Aside from the academy’s workshop there is also a community workshop facing the other side which someone from within the community will take over and run as a subsidised business and provide bicycle repair services to the community at discounted rates.”


The fully equipped Bicycle Workshop at the Wentworth Bike Park will in future be supplemented by a Community Bicycle Repair Shop – Image: Charles Ash

Getting The Kids Onboard 

We asked Jean how the community is responding now that the Bike Park is fully functioning.
“It’s cottoning on slowly because you must remember that our community is a soccer fraternity but they are starting to understand the intention that is an academy, so besides the cycling, it is to skill the child holistically.”

“We’ve brought in youth facilitators so the children who are signed up at the academy enjoy having extra lessons and tutoring in Maths and English. Adults in the community are also able to benefit from adult skills development programs hosted by the community”

We asked coach Sydell Wilson about the kids currently at the cycling academy and what the enrollment requirements are for the kids.
“We currently have around 240 kids enrolled in the program with ages ranging from 7 year-olds to 14 year-olds. When kids come here for the first time and want to enrol we normally ask them to come with their parents but if the parents are working, we give the kids registration forms and then contact the parents to verify details with them and explain to them what we do. Some parents do come, some can’t come and some parents don’t really care.”


Former School Teacher Jean Choudree who is at the helm of the Cycling Academy in a classroom at the Wentworth Bike Park – Image: Charles Ash

Jean Choudree added to what the coach had to say: “I’d like to add on to what Sydell said. We have an apathy amongst parents, but I can tell you it’s [support from] mainly the parents from here, the immediate neighbourhood. Then we get a less privileged group of children coming from a little further away and sadly their parents are not supportive of them and they don’t come and watch them.”
“We basically become babysitters during the holidays because the kids come here from 8 o’Clock till 4 or 5 o’Clock when the coaches leave and currently we don’t get funding to supply them with meals.

Funding For Meals in Limbo

“There used to be meals when the classes started and kids were fed there  days a week because the Maths and English classes are on a Monday, Wednesday and a Saturday so they were given energy bars and juices and things like that to sustain them for the day as that’s basically what the budget was at the time”

The funding for meals is in limbo since Green Corridor is no longer the implementing agency and until a replacement implementation agency is appointed it is difficult for the staff to ensure that the kids on the program are all fed.

We went on to discuss the possibility of starting a fundraising campaign for the bike park so that they are able to sustain the provision of meals to the kids.


The Wentworth Bike Park is unfortunately not set up in a manner that allows them to raise their own funds but we want to encourage our readers in and around Durban who are able to facilitate that the project can be supplied with meals or snack items to please approach the Wentworth Bike Park in order to directly deliver to them.


The Wentworth Bike Park has a well-equipped kitchen but currently has no funding for meals – Image: Charles Ash

Replicating the Concept in Other Cities

Our conversation also covered how Wentworth is being plagued with gangsterism and having similar issues as areas in Cape Town such as Lavender Hill, Ocean View and Elsies RIver.
This in turn affect poverty alleviation programs like feeding schemes and soup kitchens,
Aside from there being large scale community feeding projects like the one run in Ocean View that I at some level was involved in and is aimed at poverty alleviation serving up to 10000 meals a week, we wanted to know if duplicating a project like the Wentworth Bike Park could make a difference to children’s lives on the Cape Flats.


We at are not aware of any Cycling Academy Bike Park in any of the aforementioned Cape Town areas. However a very similar project is the Langa Bicycle Hub in Langa on the Cape Flats which operates as a Social Enterprise. 

Now before anyone asks why in Langa and not in “our Coloured areas”, the answer is simple. Perhaps no-one from those Coloured areas has actually done anything to get one started.

So for those interested in setting up a bike park in their area we will below the last paragraph of the article include a document with extensive guidelines and best practices for setting up a cycling academy. The Best Practices Guideline is issued by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment along with KFW Bank & German Cooperation which also funds Langa Bicycle Hub.


The Go!Durban Cycle Academy Wentworth Bike Park occupies half of the K1 Park – Image: Charles Ash

Where are Bike Parks & Cycling Academies Needed?

What we have gathered is that in any less privileged area where family structures are fragile or non-existent, this kind of program has a huge positive impact on the lives of children and adds to their holistic development.

Coach Sydell said that she experiences how some of the children whose parents aren’t very involved in their lives gravitate towards coaches and facilitators as role models and as parental figures.
“In terms of less privileged areas, we need these kinds of facilities and we notice that kids cling onto us as a parent figure.”
“What I’m finding out is that from when they come in they spend most of their day with us. So when we do chores like for instance cleaning the toilets they will come and confide in us and are comfortable in telling us their problems. Some of them actually call me mother, and even coach Romano; some of them call him father.”

Jean Choudree added that because of where they are situated, an area which is similar to Lavender Hill, some parents are worried because they see it as a dangerous area. “They believe that it’s not safe to send their children to the Bike Park but it is actually safer for the kids to be here.”
“When shooting used to take place in the area, this was the first place children used to run to. They come here for shelter and safety. Like the coach said, they confide in us and aren’t afraid to talk to us.”


Jean Choudree, Sydell Wilson & Lorraine Ogle-Davies out on the Wentworth Bike Park track – Image: Charles Ash

Adults Need a Mindset Shift

“We do have a group of parents who are very involved and there are programs in the pipeline that address the issues that some of the children and our community face.

An example is Darrion Smith who is busy with a program addressing the issue of absent fathers and  so he’s going to families and it is part of his PhD that he’s doing and for which he’s getting funded by the Human Sciences Research Council.”
“There are also all the other skills development programs that are being implemented in the community which bodes well for us in the long run”

Life coach and community activist, Lorraine Ogle-Davies, says: “From a psychological aspect, the sad reality is that our adults need a mindset shift. Regardless of how many structures or programs one implements, you always get shot down and they don’t see it as for the good of our future leaders.”

Lorraine Ogle-Davies went on to say that the adults are the ones who shoot down something aimed at the kids. Even when they were starting to get support for the bike park, it was adults who would say, ‘What is this coming to? We don’t need this. We need money, we need housing and jobs’.
“They are not seeing the bigger picture, so it is all about their mindset.”


Jean Choudree concluded that one of the biggest challenges now is to get more of the older high school kids onto the program as most of the children they have are from primary school.
“We concentrate mainly on school-going children from primary and high schools but we find that it’s mainly only the primary school children who are interested. The bigger ones on high school are very disinterested so that is another area we want to improve on.” “Once we have gone through the transition of appointing the new implementing agent, we want to go into all our schools and do presentations. That way we can get more kids from all the schools, especially the older kids from high schools onto the program.”

Along with the container facilities that boast its own veranda, the Wentworth Bike Park also has a mini grand stand for spectators to watch the action on the track – Image: Charles Ash

Coloured Communities Need to Learn to Engage The System

We at can see that the Wentworth Bike Park is an excellent example of a Coloured community engaging the government and other structures  in order to access funding for programs and projects that benefits the community.

We have found over the many years of addressing issues in our communities that the Coloured communities in general across South Africa just have a history of not engaging with the systems. We tend to feel very unworthy and very undeserving of things we’re not familiar with when engaging with government departments. As far as I know government departments like for example the Department of Arts and Culture do not have any specific programs for addressing the needs of coloured people. There are also a lot of government departments that are completely ignoring the Coloured community.

In different spheres we are starting to have more and more people in our communities who engage with the system and seize these opportunities but because we don’t have a history of actually being part of the system or participating in the system progress is slow.. It’s a problem we need to overcome and you’ve just gotta keep pushing, trying to change people’s minds and thereby change their lives.

The Wentworth Bike Park is slowly but surely changing adult minds and for the kids who benefit from the cycling academy, the Wentworth Bike Park stands as a beacon of hope, and it is definitely changing their lives.

If you would like to know more about, support and get involved with the Wentworth Bike Park, please contact Jean Govender on 076 505 1707


The Best Practices Guideline for Starting a Cycling Academy can be viewed or downloaded below.

Cycling Academies Best Practices Guidelines – DFFE – PDF(41MB)

What do you think?

Written by Charles Ash

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