"The event aims to bring the youth of Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain together through the fun activity of walking dogs," says Marcelle du Plessis, fundraising and communications executive of the clinic.

"Most of these children come from difficult backgrounds, many never having experienced love. The unconditional love of a four-legged friend is priceless," adds du Plessis. 

According to the clinic, the event addresses both animal and youth issues. In both communities, animals are often bred for protection with children being taught to fear dogs. Here, children will experience the kind, compassionate qualities of dogs — something many community children never experience in their home environments.

At the same time, they will learn about animal ownership and responsibility. The event also aims to provide a safe space for children from challenged backgrounds to spend a day feeling like they have a purpose in the world by doing good, says the clinic.

Heidi May, general manager at Mdzananda Animal Clinic, says that growing up with pets is linked to higher self-esteem, cognitive development and social skills and this event is the first step towards that.

"At Mdzananda, we've experienced that many children are the carers for the animals in the home. They befriend the animals, often being the only form of companionship and support in homes where there is violence. The animals give them a purpose," concludes May.

Remnant Youth, the co-organisers of the event, aim to create events for youth to have a community where they feel safe while doing good in the world. They have:
  • helped at Mdzananda adoption days
  • spent a week at the organisation bathing animals, and
  • cooked meals for the elderly.
Youngsters from outside of Khayelitsha and Mitchells plain are also invited to the event. Children can bring their dogs along.

Entry is free of charge. Individuals are encouraged to email [email protected] for registration forms or arrive early on the day. The public is encouraged to sponsor a child from one of these disadvantaged communities to walk for R50, as this will help cover event costs.

The walk starts at 08:00 at the Strandfontein Pavilion. Registration starts at 07:30.

For more information, visit www.mdzananda.co.za. You can also follow the Mdzananda Animal Clinic on Facebook or on Instagram.