Category Archives: News

Wedge Garden’s kings and their queen beat boredom

Things are a lot more black and white at Wedge Gardens treatment centre these days.

The long-anticipated giant outdoor chessboard has been completed and is being enjoyed by the gentlemen at Wedge Gardens.

“A special mention needs to be made of those individuals who made yet another occupational therapy department (OT) project possible,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the OT department and played a big role in the project. “Our thanks go to Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown and the Rand Aid Association, groundsman George Vermeulen and his team, as well as the patients at Wedge Gardens.”

Leisure boredom – or unproductive free time – is considered a precipitating factor in addiction and substance use. The OT department at Wedge Garden strives to instil balance within the lives of the patients at the rehabilitation facility by stressing that through meaningful occupational engagement, an individual is better able to cope with life stressors, feel a sense of worth and meaning within society and find enjoyment in healthy and constructive activity participation.

“Not only is the chessboard a space for the gentlemen to learn to use their time in a productive manner, but it is an area at Wedge Gardens where they can learn social and cognitive skills,” says Kendra.

It is a known fact that substance abuse negatively impacts cognitive health. “A chessboard is a fantastic mechanism to promote cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, memory, problem solving, judgement and executive tasks. Furthermore, as the game requires at least two players, the patients at Wedge are exposed to social interaction, which aids communication and conflict management skills,” says Kendra.

The OT department believes that through the creation and completion of projects such as the chessboard, the patients at Wedge Gardens learn numerous skills on an ongoing basis.

As such, they were involved in the planning and construction of the project and the procurement of donations. “A sense of altruism is instilled in the patients because when they end their treatment programme, they leave having been a part of a project that can be used by future patients.

“I am exceptionally proud of my patients and the work they have done to complete another OT project. Through encouraging proactive use of the facilities at Wedge Gardens, we are equipping our patients with skills for the re-integration into society, which is fundamental to any recovery programme.”

Appalling road conditions in Mpumalanga: A threat to economic development and jobs

Oupa Pilane, the President of the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism (KLCBT), is pleading with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to take tourism seriously and to start by fixing the roads, especially on the Panorama Route which is the jewel of tourism in the province.

The Panorama Route is not only one of the most popular tourist routes in Mpumalanga, it is also home to thousands of youth who are employed at various establishments along the route.

“The Panorama Route has the potential to create even more desperately needed jobs, especially for the youth in our province. It is a low-hanging fruit that can be maximised to create new and inclusive enterprises that will see more of our previously disadvantaged people taking an active role in the tourism industry,” says Pilane.

However, despite its potential to create thousands of jobs, the Panorama Route is one of the most neglected by government when it comes to the condition of the roads.

“Tourists do not want to come to the region because of these road conditions and those that are employed fear losing their jobs as the businesses they work for lose income as a result,” says Pilane.

The KLCBT has engaged government numerous times on this issue, especially the departments of economic development and tourism and public works, roads and transport.

“Our requests have fallen into deaf ears. Minor sub-standard interventions were attended to but due to the poor quality of work, the roads have become even more dangerous than they were before. We continue to receive negative feedback from visitors – both domestic and international – about the conditions of our roads,” says Pilane.

Many bicycle and motor sport events have been cancelled or put on hold due to the roads, which is also having a detrimental effect on job creation in the area.

“Our province’s reputation as the country’s inland tourism destination of choice is being jeopardised by the inability of the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to play their part. This has to be corrected,” Pilane stresses.

Mpumalanga’s tourism sector has welcomed the call by the President of South Africa to join hands and work together to reduce the level of unemployment in our province.

“We cannot do this alone and therefore urgently request the Mpumalanga Provincial Government to step up and partner with us to create a shared vision that will see our province grow and flourish and not stagnate,” Pilane concludes.

Marinda pours her heart into her art

Marinda le Roux need only look around her for inspiration. As a resident of the beautiful Mpumalanga town of Sabie, she is surrounded by waterfalls, mountains and forest.

A freelance consultant who does environmental impact assessments for a living, the mother of two’s passion flows in another direction – that of paint pouring.

Amazingly, the sturdy flat surfaces on which she creates her work are mostly sourced at local rubbish heaps, courtesy of her supportive partner Samuel who spends many a Saturday mornings salvaging items for Marinda.

“It is amazing how many people get rid of their unsuccessful hobbies. We’ve found many framed paintings, paint, brushes and decoupage materials at dump sites,” she says.

She started acrylic pouring less than a year ago and says she is now hooked on the technique. YouTube videos were her tutors and her kitchen table her workspace.

“I soon realised that this art form is not very ‘contained’ and moved to the braai area outside under a fruit tree. This later proved to be a bad choice because little figs kept falling onto the wet paint, ruining the effect. Also, I found a few moths that had crash landed onto the canvas and I even had dove tracks on one of the paintings one morning.”

Luckily Sam gave up his carport for Marinda and two large tables, extra lights and drying scaffolding were set up to create her temporary studio.

Despite the relatively short time Marinda has been doing acrylic pouring, she jumped at the chance to showcase her work in the National Craft Competition, which is currently in the entry stage.

Marinda explains that acrylic pouring is a technique in which acrylic paints are thinned to a runny consistency and then poured onto a surface. “The colours mix and wonderful things happen when you add silicone or alcohol.

A ‘dirty pour’ is when you pour a few different colours into a cup or container at the same time and then pour them onto your prepared surface.”

The ‘puddle pour’ is when you pour paint into a funnel after closing the bottom opening. Once all paints are added, you open the funnel and the paint flows onto the canvas. You then move the funnel around to create a design. “The paint is poured in several ‘puddles’ before the canvas is tipped to create interesting designs in the flowing paints.”

Going back to the natural beauty that surrounds Sabie, Marinda explains that as an environmentalist – by profession and heart, her work is mainly inspired by nature. “Some of the pouring artworks end up being backgrounds for a nature scene, while others look like something from outer space or under water,” she says.

Taking the unwanted and lovingly making it her own is not something that only happens in Marinda’s studio.

“Last year we bought a property with a half-built house in Sabie and we are in process of fixing it up. This might take a few years, as Sam is owner-builder-woodworker who uses mostly second-hand salvaged materials and does most of the work himself. For now, the plan is to convert the ground floor area into a workshop for him and an art studio for me. Exciting!” says Marinda.

National Craft Competition

Crafters have until April 20, 2018, to enter. They need simply take a photo of their entry – next to a matchbox for size of scale, and either email it to crafts@innibos.co.za or send it to 071 621 3597 via MMS or WhatsApp. There is no entry fee.

Remember to include your name, the town in which you live and your contact details.

Entrants who have not heard from the organisers within 30 days of the closing date must take it as given that they did not make the shortlist for final judging. Sixty entries will be shortlisted and these will form part of an exhibition to be held in Mbombela during the Innibos National Arts Festival from June 24 to 30, 2018.

The finalists must be available to attend the awards evening on Sunday, June 24, at which the winners will be announced.

The winner of the Platinum Award will receive R50 000, the Gold Award winner will pocket R20 000 and the Silver R15 000. There will also be merit awards for the Best Emerging Craftsmen, along with sound financial advice to grow their business. In addition, a Craft Retail Apprenticeship with Tourvest Destination Retail will be bestowed on one of the winners.

Entries in the disciplines of Ceramics, Beadwork, Wirework, Wood, Jewellery, Paper, Fabric Painting and Printing, Quilting, Leatherwork, Pewter, Glasswork, Embroidery and Mixed Media are invited.

For information, please contact Jan Bhuda on 083 719 1731 or e-mail John Anthony Boerma at artaid@lantic.net.  Also, please LIKE the craft competition Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Innibosnationalcraftawards/

 

Sanca happily settled at Wedge Gardens

After relocating last year, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is settled in at Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst, just outside of Johannesburg.

Both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is situated in extensive grounds easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens officially become a member of the Sanca family in 2016 after going through the approval process with Sanca’s National Management Board.

“With the Sanca head office on the premises of Wedge Gardens, a closer working relationship has been established. Numerous clients have been referred for treatment through the website and WhatsApp helpline. In addition, other stakeholders visiting the National Sanca Office get to know about Wedge Gardens,” says Sanca spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen.

“Wedge Gardens offers a safe, secure and welcoming environment. We feel at home and have received excellent support from the maintenance and gardening services,” she adds.

“The management of Wedge Gardens, Ayanda Matthews and Adel Grobbelaar, has been wonderful and helped us settle in. It is a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

“As one of the oldest rehabilitation centres in the country, Wedge Gardens is one of the flagships of the type of services which should ideally be provided to treat substance use disorders in South Africa,” says Adrie.

Established in 1956, Sanca has a proud history of contributing to the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. It has evolved over the years to meet modern challenges and today boasts an Academy of Learning that offers Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses for those who have a passion for working with people.

“We offer a basic counselling course and online courses,” says Adrie.

Sanca has a presence in eight of the country’s nine provinces. Wedge Gardens is one of 30 Sanca treatment centres.

“We are proud to be part of this hard-working and effective non-profit organisation,” says Ayanda.

* For further information on Sanca or to enrol for one of the courses offered, visit their website www.sancanational.info. You can also use their WhatsApp helpline: 076 535 170.

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320 or visit their website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

 

 

Nursing veteran joins Wedge Gardens team

With two decades of experience in the healthcare field, Wedge Garden’s new deputy manager and professional charge nurse brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that complements the substance abuse treatment centre’s dedicated professional team.

Kempton Park resident Estelle Raath joined Wedge Gardens on February 1, 2018.

“As part of Wedge Garden’s multi-disciplinary team, I am hoping to add the experience gained in many disciplines to Wedge Gardens and to the patients,” she says.

One of her past positions was at another Gauteng-based rehabilitation centre. “I gained lots of experience in the field of addiction and found that I have an affinity for it.”

Estelle completed her B.Cur degree in 1995 through Potchefstroom University and registered as a nursing sister (general, community, midwifery and psychiatry).

During her training, she worked at various hospitals including Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Witrand Rehabilitation Centre, Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital, Tara Moross Psychiatric Hospital and various community nursing clinics.

Before joining Wedge Gardens, she was unit manager medical ward: Life Dalview Hospital. Before that she was nursing service manager: Elim Clinic. Estelle has vast experience in occupational health, as a maternity and labour ward sister and as a theatre sister. She also did a stint in Saudi Arabia.

A fan of evolving with the times, Estelle has completed a number of short courses.

Since starting at Wedge Gardens, everyone has welcomed me and made me feel as if I am an old colleague. Team members and all patients at Wedge are amazing and I am truly blessed to be working here,” she says.

Labyrinth smooths rehab’s rocky road

Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department has stepped to it and completed is walking labyrinth.

“The aim was to provide an additional space for mindfulness practices at the Wedge Gardens to fuel and support the dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based stress-reduction programmes that the OT department run every weekday morning,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the department.

Mindfulness and emotion regulation, which are skills of DBT, have been recognised as key components towards any recovery process. Fuelled by the desire to motivate and engage the patients at Wedge Gardens in mindfulness, Kendra began the process of collecting donations for the rocks needed to form the borders of the walking labyrinth.

“A huge thank you to Pebbles for Africa for their help in reducing the costs of two truckloads of rocks. Gratitude is also extended to all individuals (whose names are recorded around the labyrinth) for their contribution towards raising funds for the OT project, as well as to Rand Aid for its continued support.”

Kendra says the construction of the labyrinth was a rewarding process for all involved. “The patients were taught to take initiative during the construction process and as such were encouraged to work collaboratively – utilising communication and problem-solving skills, as well as frustration tolerance, in the formation of ideas and the implementation of action.

“The pride I have in my patients is huge. Not only have they shown investment in their recovery process by actively engaging in all elements of this project, but they have created a space that can be used for years to come by future recovering addicts and alcoholics. Mindfulness is an exceptionally powerful medium in developing skills that combat anxiety, depression and rumination as well as emotion regulation, self-compassion and awareness.”

Occupational therapists work through activities to help with awareness of self, skill development and the creation of functional, meaningful and goal-directed lives. Every project initiated by the OT department at Wedge Gardens is centred around optimal patient care and treatment.

“It is a fantastic experience seeing the change that occurs in an individual when they engage in something that stimulates passion, creativity and enthusiasm – and even more so when it promotes change in behaviour.”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

The ugly truth about depression and substance abuse

Research indicates a connection between mood disorders like depression and substance abuse, says social worker Karen Griessel, who has helped dozens of people kick addiction through Wedge Gardens’ professional treatment programme.

Sanca-affiliated Wedge Gardens has developed a holistic treatment programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care within the life cycle of addiction, from onset to the later years.

“People diagnosed with a mood disorder are twice as likely to abuse substances and one-third of people with depression have an alcohol problem. People who are depressed may drink or abuse drugs to lift their mood or escape from feelings of guilt or despair. But substances like alcohol, which is a depressant, can increase feelings of sadness or fatigue,” says Karen.

She explains that people can experience depression after the effects of drugs wear off or as they struggle to cope with how the addiction has impacted their life. “A drink or two or a line of cocaine might temporarily relieve some symptoms, but the backlash when the chemical leaves the body brings the depression to new lows. This withdrawal depression happens each time chemicals leave the body. This can trigger the use of more alcohol or drugs because they will help get rid of the bad feelings.”

Those who suffer from depression are combating more than just occasional sadness. Many times, the symptoms of depression manifest physically as well as mentally. Some of the symptoms include the following: aches and pains, sleeplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, weight issues, sleeping too much, no energy, crying, worthlessness, irritability, suicide and general loss of interest in life. Some roots of depression include brain functioning, environment and childhood experiences, genetics, situational factors and chemical imbalances in the brain.

“It’s not clear fact which comes first – addiction or depression. Some people develop alcoholism or drug addiction first while others develop depression first. Because drug-use symptoms can imitate the symptoms of depression, it can be difficult to diagnose depression when a person is actively using,” she says.

A person who abuses a substance may also develop depression. For instance, the person may abuse a substance, become addicted, and eventually it affects their life negatively. These effects may contribute to developing depression as it alters the levels of serotonin.

On the other hand, people who have depression may abuse a substance to self-medicate and treat the problem. Although substance abuse may be used to relieve symptoms, chemical intoxication can make depressive episodes more severe, increasing the frequency and intensity of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviour. “Typically, this is only a temporary solution, as the substance abuse worsens the depression over time. Drug or alcohol dependency can cause a great deal of hardship across all spectrums of life and ultimately worsen the person’s depression.”

The World Health Organisation states that 350 million reported people suffer from depression, half of which won’t receive treatment.

Treatment for depression and substance abuse generally includes the use of both medications and therapy. Antidepressants may be used to stabilise mood, and various medications may be used as needed to moderate withdrawal from substances of abuse. Therapy makes up the backbone of treatment, addressing issues related to both disorders. A rehab programme that addresses both depression and addiction may help to stop the progression of both disorders and empower the individual to build a healthy, sober life.

“Someone who had depression before they began to abuse substances will most likely need treatment, including medication intervention, for a longer time than someone whose depression was caused by the cycle of addiction.

“Depression is a chronic, progressive illness that may get worse without treatment. The only way to treat this serious disorder effectively is through professional therapeutic interventions, such as behavioural modification, support groups, motivational therapy and antidepressant medications.”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

 

On the straight and narrow, thanks to people who care

A little bit of civic-mindedness and concern for others goes a long way. This is what young Lebogang Tsebe of Alexandra experienced when his mother refused to allow him to ruin his life.

Sylvia Tsebe is part of the housekeeping staff at Rand Aid’s Inyoni Creek retirement village. Last year, she unburdened herself at work, saying how she feared for her young son who was using drugs and refusing to go to school.

Rand Aid also manages a substance abuse treatment centre called Wedge Gardens. “We approached Wedge Gardens for guidance and Lebogang was put on a waiting list to be admitted to the centre for treatment,” explains Jenny Tonkin, Inyoni Creek’s manager.

Eventually, a space became available and Lebogang spent the next three months as a resident of Wedge Gardens, where he benefited from the professional programme that is run. It is a holistic programme based on multi-disciplinary interventions that focus on assessment, behaviour change, family and community integration and recovery care.

The centre has a limited number of state subsidised beds.

At the end of last year, Lebogang returned home – clean, sober and full of hope. Sylvia knew that without an education, Lebogang would battle to get a job and without a constructive way to keep himself busy, his chances of relapse were greater. She again turned to the management team at Inyoni Creek.

Deputy complex manager Marinda Looyen suggested that Lebogang go and see what courses were available at the Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre in Kempton Park, where Inyoni Creek sends its staff for training.

“On applying at the college, he was given a full bursary and is doing a three-year course to be trained as a mechanic,” says Jenny, smiling when she remembers how Lebogang – now 19 – arrived at their offices recently to thank them for all they had done to help him.

Get your free 2018 Kruger Lowveld Visitors’ Guide

Kruger Lowveld Tourism’s 2018 Official Visitors’ Guide to the region, which now features a pull-out map in the front of the guide, is now available!

The guide – an appetiser to the Kruger Lowveld region – not only offers sound travel advice and interesting travel tips, but this year also features an exciting seven-day itinerary including Kaapschehoop and Barberton; Mbombela, White River and Hazyview; the iconic Kruger National Park; Hoedspruit; the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon; Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest and Sabie; and Lydenburg and Dullstroom.

“The itinerary provides visitors to the region with tips on various things to do and see in these areas, whilst our 10 scenic routes section showcases the absolute beauty and grandeur of the Kruger Lowveld,” says Lisa Sheard, KLT’s Executive Director and Marketing Consultant.

This year’s guide book also shares exciting information about the top adventure activities in the area, including the recently launched Graskop Gorge Viewing Lift; Skyway Trails; the Long Tom Toboggan; Avian Adventures Flying Club; and Gap Tours and Transfers.

And, of course, there’s everyone’s favourite section – 10 Little Gems – which showcases yet another ten tourism products that are unusual and exciting from the Mariepskop Hiking Trail and the CMDA Celebration of Music, to the Madilika Craft Centre, the Country Farm Stall and Orchid Nursery and the Kruger National Park’s Tshokwane Trading Post and Picnic Site.

“This year we have also included five extraordinary things to do in the Kruger Lowveld, from an exciting artists’ route and extraordinary places to sleep in the Kruger National Park to rock climbing in Waterval Boven,” says Sheard.

The back of the guide serves as a directory of many of the preferred products and services that you can book in the Kruger Lowveld region, from accommodation and restaurants, to various tours and adventures.

The 2018 Official Visitors’ Guide is available at Kruger Lowveld Tourism head office and information offices around the region. Come and get yours now! For more information, visit krugerlowveld.com or contact 013 755 1988.

Book the date for the Sappi Mankele MTB challenge

It’s time for riders to get out their bikes and start preparing for Mpumalanga’s not-to-be-missed annual Sappi Mankele MTB challenge, which takes place at Mankele on Saturday, 17 March 2018.

Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in South Africa and the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge is fast becoming a national event with riders participating from across the country. In addition, the challenge has also been incorporated into the Mpumalanga Marathon Series, which is open to all mountain bikers from all provinces.

“Sappi’s plantations not only provide a critical renewable resource to help grow South Africa’s economy, but together with our conservation areas our land provides a fantastic resource for planned recreational activities,” says Sappi’s General Manager Forestry in Mpumalanga, Dietmar Schroeder.

“We therefore support non-motorised activities, such as mountain biking and bird watching on Sappi land. This also forms part of our commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle and nurturing an appreciation of nature and the sustainable use of renewable resources” he adds.

Over the years the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge organising body has developed unique trails running through Sappi’s bush tunnels and endless single tracks, which enables riders to have the best possible mountain biking experience. In fact, Mankele trails are rated amongst the best mountain biking trails in South Africa by many professional riders. In addition to a thrilling ride, riders can look forward to race medals and cash prizes.

Riders and spectators can also look forward to a free spa, which is set up annually to ease tired and aching muscles and treat visitors to complimentary spa treatments.

Sappi is planning a fun day for the entire family, from food stalls to a jumping castle for the kids. So why not bring the family and camp out at Mankele for the weekend?

All proceeds from the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge will be donated to local charitable organisations, for the betterment of the community.

To enter the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge, visit www.entrytime.co.za. For more information, contact Mark at 082 338 9532. For more information about Mankele or to book accommodation, email ride@mankele.co.za or call 078 801 0453.

Sappi MTB schools’ challenge

This year Sappi is again challenging schools to enter their MTB teams into the race. The winning school – which is the one with the most entries – will win R5,500. There’s also R3,500 up for grabs for second place and R2,500 for third.

There were wide smiles at Uplands College last year when the school took first place in the schools’ challenge and was rewarded for its pedal power. Curro Nelspruit took second place and Penryn College came third.

Do you have what it takes to beat them this year?

Choose your battle for 2018

The 65km and all of its rewards: The 65 km race takes the rider up the kicker at Mankele and through Mikon Chicken Farm. Whilst your legs may start to protest, there are some flat areas that offer a bit of recuperation. Then there’s ‘Gums’ single track, followed by a bit of climbing and the first massive reward… BEEES will make you feel as fresh as ever. Ride down past Mayo Estates to Barry’s bush tunnel, then into Simon’s bush tunnel before you head higher and higher up Mankele ridge. The climb’s a bit of a dog, but the reward is well worth it. Enjoy the fast jeep track all the way to River Wild, cross the river on a new bridge and head up and down before you’re hit by a climb you’ll never forget. When you recover, you’ll head into Sappi’s bush tunnel and down to the cattle trail. This is an awesome single track that leads you to a few bush tunnels andfun all the way home.

The 34km (900m ascent): This ride, a rude awakening up the Old Sabie Road, will have you soon doubting your fitness levels. But once at the top, you will be rewarded with a beautiful pine, single track. Follow jeep track, rocky climbs and stunning views while you ride down into Sudwala Valley. When you reach the 25km mark you’ll get your second wind at the water point. From here is the reason we ride… Steep descents, bushveld trails, bush tunnels, Pecan orchards and single track all the way home!

The 22km (380m ascent):This ride offers a gradual climb up the district road, past Sudwala Lodge and into pine forests. Just when you think you can’t climb any more, there’s a water point at 9.2km, followed by undulating recovery time. From here there’s a mind-blowing descent through African bushveld, with a rollercoaster-style bush tunnel. After the second water point, at 18km, enjoy a fast finish along district road, one more steep descent and a fun single track to the end.

The 15km (170m ascent): Enjoy a flat start on district road, while your legs warm up, and head for the slight climb up to Thulani Depot. Then its single track which takes you all the way to the mines. Veer off onto Msilezi Farm, with a lovely rolling jeep track. The single track next to the river leads you home.