Cyclists empower young girls

Debbie Stopforth of Noordhoek says Cycling4Sisters goal is to raise funds for 2 000 reusable SUBZ washable sanitary pads for rural school girls.

An enthusiastic group of cyclists are putting their energy to good use by raising funds to empower school going-girls in rural and disadvantaged areas in the Western Cape.

Debbie Stopforth, who works as a bike fitter and technician at the Bike Park at Constantia Uitsig Wine Farm, said the group of 20 women, with an average age of 47.6 years, started cycling socially about six years ago.

Two months ago they launched a charity called Cycling4Sisters to raise funds to support 2 000 rural school girls. “These schools are not always accessible by road and so we’re going to deliver the washable panty pads to the girls and to give educational and personal hygiene talks, by bicycle, at the end of November,” said Ms Stopforth.

“These school girls normally miss a week out of every month due to their menstrual cycle and not having adequate sanitary protection. That’s about 20% of their total school days over an average of about five years. Each pack of washable pads and panties cost R175,” she said.

They have done a few fundraisers so far and have made enough to support 800 girls. On Thursday June 1 they held a night ride at the bike park starting at 6pm, for all ability groups and all ages, with a choice of routes from 5km and 17km to 22km. The cost of entry was supporting one girl, at R175, to raise funds to buy reusable SUBZ washable sanitary pants and pads. These are manufactured and distributed by SUBZ Pants and Pads, a registered and accredited NPO.

“Under the guidance of Johan Kriegler of Wine to Wheels MTB cycle events, we’ll be riding for five days, cycling routes which give us access to these schools in need, between Somerset West and George,” said Ms Stopforth.

Owner of the bike park, Chris Nixon, said he is fully supportive of the initiative, saying the school girls need to be empowered and need to have education.

Lisa Haines of Simon’s Town said the sanitary pads would make a difference to the girls by restoring their dignity.

The Subzpads website states that the pads are washable and the panties can be re-used. The panty is made from 100% cotton, and the pads made from five layers of hydrophilic fabric.

For more information, contact Debbie Stopforth at 082 371 3372, or