Making a difference at Bernard Isaacs Primary School

JDA staff members paving a section of the learners' recreational areaJDA staff members paving a section of the learners' recreational area at Bernard Isaacs Primary School.

Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) staff members rolled up their sleeves, pulled on the heavy-duty gloves and got down to work at Bernard Isaacs Primary School in Coronationville on Monday, 18 July.

The Bernard Isaacs Primary learners assembleThe Bernard Isaacs Primary learners assemble to welcome the JDA on Mandela Day 2016.The JDA staffers contributed their 67 minutes for Nelson Mandela Day 2016 by helping to pave a section of the learners' outdoor recreational area at a school closely connected with the City's Corridors of Freedom programme, for which the JDA is the lead implementing agency.

Many of the 1 300 learners at Bernard Isaacs Primary get to school and back every day by crossing to and from neighbouring Westbury over Fuel Road - a major artery carrying the Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) route that forms the backbone of the Empire-Perth Corridor of Freedom.

To enable them, and other community members, to navigate Fuel Road safely, the JDA is busy building a new pedestrian bridge connecting Kretzschmar Street in Westbury with Kowie Street in Coronationville.

The Mandela Day commemorative plaque presentedThandiwe Msibi, Executive Manager in the CEO's Office at the JDA, Councillor Basil Douglas, Bernard Isaacs Primary Principal Mr Davy, JDA Marketing Manager Susan Monyai (holding Mandela Day commemorative plaque) and Councillor Cathy Seefort.Bernard Isaacs Primary is located barely 100 metres from the new bridge, while 500 metres away on the other side lies Westbury Primary - where another team of JDA staffers spent the morning of Nelson Mandela Day helping to paint the school's ablution block.

Corridors of Freedom 'to bring communities closer together'

Councillor Cathy Seefort, speaking to the learners at Bernard Isaacs about Executive Mayor Parks Tau's vision of "re-stitching" the city in order to bring communities closer together, said the Corridors of Freedom aimed to ensure "that people can move freely, safely and more efficiently".

"You all see the Rea Vaya here in front," Councillor Seefort said. The City was laying down the Rea Vaya network in order to provide "transport to help people, instead of spending long hours in all the traffic, to move faster to get to work, and also to get faster home to be with you".

Unloading the bricksUnloading the bricks as the paving work gets under way.The JDA was at the forefront of this development, the Councillor said, and was at the school this morning to help improve the learners' environment - in line with Madiba's vision "that all of us need to put something back into the community, to spend some time, to improve their lives.

"And as you grow up, you can also do that," she told the learners. "The lesson of today is that as you grow up you will also try to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others."

'Tomorrow, you'll be having your lunch under those trees'

Mandela Day teamwork from the JDA staffersMandela Day teamwork from the JDA staffers.Thandiwe Msibi, Executive Manager in the CEO's Office at the JDA, explained to the learners that the JDA was all about "making sure that the communities we're living in are not just residential, but that we are able to work and play within these communities.

"And the most important person in these communities," Msibi said, "is all of you sitting here. The work that we do, we do for you."

The Bernard Isaacs dance group then performed for their guests, after which three learners read out poems they had written for Mandela Day. The poems, by Liza Stembok, Lesego Kgatitswe and Eleora Heneke (all 12 years old), have been selected for publication in an anthology by Monash University.

Making sure the job gets done rightMaking sure the job gets done right.Then it was down to work for team JDA, under the guidance of staff from Kingsway Civil, the principal contractor on the Westbury pedestrian bridge project, who had prepared a surface for paving.

"We're here to work," Executive Manager Msibi said, and she joined in with the rest of her team to make good on her word. There was no choice: the principal, Mr Davy, had promised the learners of Bernard Isaacs that "this time tomorrow, you will be having your lunch under those trees on a newly paved surface".