We are grateful to Modern Athlete (www.modernathlete.co.za) who has featured the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation in their August 2018 Issue. Thank you Sean Falconer and Kim Walker, who have kindly granted us permission to reuse the article here. It is clearly best to leave the writing to the professional journalists!
Cape runners Renata Schoeman and Nic de Beer don some eye-catching costumes in order to raise funds for their Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation and the work they do to help school children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other mental health disorder.
If you suddenly find yourself running or cycling next to two athletes in fancy dress costumes during a race, one dressed in a Goldilocks outfit with yellow dress and long yellow pigtails, and another in a ‘onesie’ bear suit, complete with massive bear-head, you may be forgiven for thinking you’re hallucinating due to a lack of oxygen. Relax, though, because you’ll just be sharing the road or trail with the Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation athletes.
Usually, the characters beneath the costumes are psychiatrist Renata Schoeman (Goldilocks) and entrepreneur Nic de Beer (The Bear). Renata is a general psychiatrist in private practice and amongst her running achievements on road and trail she has a 4:52:49 finish in the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. Meanwhile, entrepreneur Nic’s focus is in the hospitality industry, and he is also a top runner and coach, with 12 silver medals at Comrades, 10 silver medals in the Two Oceans Marathon, and numerous trail running victories and podium finishes.
They ran the three-day AfricanX Trailrun in 2017, including donning their trademark costumes on the challenging 32km dress-up second stage, and walked off with the award for best dressed team. Unsurprisingly, running such a challenging route in the bear suit proved quite a challenge for Nic. “I think I lost a few kilograms in sweat inside the suit, and it was hard to breath inside the head, because the only air coming in was through the eye patches. But running in the suit is for such a great cause, and that kept me going, because we really caught people’s attention.”
Kids in Need
Renata and Nic are co-founders of the Goldilocks and the Bear Foundation, a registered non-profit NGO that works to remove mental health barriers to education in South Africa. When asked to explain the name of the foundation, Renata says, “I am sure you know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but have you ever considered why Goldilocks got herself into such a lot of trouble? Just perhaps she struggled with inattentiveness, absentmindedly wandering off into the woods, and then impulsively entering a strange house, and with her usual hyperactive way started climbing on furniture and tasting the food…”
“She was lucky that the story had a happy ending, but thousands of other kids aren’t so lucky. At least one in 20 children in South Africa suffers from ADHD, a disorder marked by symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Although mental health clinics exist in the public sector, children with ADHD often never reach this point of diagnosis and treatment due to a lack of awareness and knowledge in their communities. They are never screened for ADHD, and may be labelled as naughty, or even ‘stupid,’ and may just silently fall out of the educational system and only come to our attention when absorbed into the criminal justice system. These children never have the opportunity to flourish.”
Back to School
And so Renata, Nic and their team visit underprivileged schools all over the Western Cape to provide screening to the children for ADHD, anxiety, depression, visual and hearing problems, and developmental problems. They also ensure that these children are referred for the necessary investigation, testing, diagnosis and treatment. “During the past seven months, we visited 17 schools and have provided access to services to roughly 12,000 children. This led to us assisting more than 600 children, including diagnosing more than 150 with ADHD and 38 with anxiety and depression. We also did more than 95 eye assessments, 70 hearing assessments, and more than 110 educational assessments,” says Renata.
The Foundation aims to screen 500 children per month, but would like to do much more, given that there are an estimated 200,000 children in the Western Cape alone who currently have no access to such services, or have to wait month for assistance. “We have therefore recruited pro bono volunteers to assist us, including optometrists, audiologists and educational psychologists. However, we also need to buy in services from professionals, and thus we are completely dependent on fundraising initiatives and donors,” says Nic.
So that’s how Nic and Renata came up with the idea of running in costume to raise funds for and awareness of their Foundation, and their next outing will be on 23 September when they take on the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. “We are registered as a charity on Back-a-buddy, so people can support us as registered GB4ADHD Champions, or they can become a Goldilocks or a Bear Champion for GB4ADHD and host their own fundraising events to support our initiatives. All donations will make a difference in the lives of these kids,” says Nic.