Healthy body; healthy mind. Did you know that it’s Global Wellness Day on 10 June? On this day, people around the world celebrate perhaps one of the most intrinsic and valuable goals that we as humanity share: to live well. Of course it means something different to each and every person, but at its core is the common desire to live a good life – physically, mentally and spiritually.
At &Beyond, we inspire our guests to live and travel well, by helping them to achieve their lifelong bucket list dreams and create unforgettable memories along the way. And through our core ethos of caring for the land, wildlife and people, we also ensure that we protect and give back to our precious planet, enabling the wellness of its inhabitants, both human and non-human.
Health and wellness are equally important when it comes to our own #HumansofandBeyond family, which is why we decided to create our own motivational &Beyond Life programme. This inventive programme aims to educate and inspire our staff to take charge of their own wellbeing and take the necessary steps toward living healthy and fulfilling lives.
So what exactly is &Beyond Life? It is more than simply adopting an active lifestyle, maintaining one’s health and avoiding illness. It is also about personal development, individual growth and paying it forward to those around you.
The three-tiered message is simple: give; move; learn. By giving of ourselves and our time to others, by getting off the couch and getting active, and by continually learning new things, we can all lead happier, healthier and more rewarding lives.
From planting trees in local communities, educating community children about the importance of conservation, incorporating healthier menus in our staff canteens and connecting &Beyonders through their unified passion for soccer, this interactive programme has truly created a spark within the &Beyond family. It has inspired some fantastic achievements and has encouraged personal growth, a sense of pride and well-deserved peer recognition.
The concept here is simple. When we give from the heart and expect nothing in return, everyone benefits. Our staff continue to give of themselves and their time by helping out in the local communities. From hosting young learners on conservation lessons, donating seedlings to be planted, purchasing supplies and gifts for local schools and orphanages, giving a fresh coat of paint to children’s playgrounds and teaching different languages such as Spanish to their fellow colleagues, our &Beyond staff continue to give back and pay it forward.
To highlight just a few of the incredible achievements, the &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve family, along with the generosity of some of their guests, suppliers, friends and family, raised enough funds to purchase more than 500 backpacks for children in three schools in the KwaNgwenya and Mnqbokazi communities. Each backpack contained some toys, stationery, sweets, food and sanitary items.
Two years in a row, the &Beyond Kirkman’s Kamp family also organised a successful fundraiser in order to spread some Christmas spirit to more than 200 orphans at the Newington C Home Based Care Centre. At the highly anticipated Christmas party, each child received a gift and bucket of sweets with their name on it. Seeing the smiles of pure joy on the children’s faces truly makes it all the more worthwhile.
The team at &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge also paid it forward and stepped in to lend a helping hand to a community in need. While out playing soccer, the team noticed some nearby community members in distress. When they discovered that a woman’s homestead was burning down, they immediately ran to the rescue. No one was hurt, however, the widower sadly lost her home and all of her belongings. Not even thinking twice, the staff at &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge raised the funds necessary to build her a new home.
It’s no secret that an active lifestyle leads to a healthier body and more positive state of mind, which is why we encourage our staff through sport. From exercising and stretching at the morning meetings, to practicing yoga at sunrise and taking part in highly competitive inter-lodge soccer and volleyball tournaments, &Beyonders are getting active and encouraging each other to move.
Education is a powerful tool and we are never too old to learn something new, which is why the &Beyond Life programme incorporates learning into its journey towards wellbeing. Our teams have been inspired to learn through educational visits to nearby landmarks, informative health seminars on diabetes and HIV, as well as regular refresher workshops about everything from housekeeping and hospitality, to food, flora and fauna.
Not only do we encourage our staff to learn and continually develop their minds, but we also provide much-needed mentorship to deserving students in local communities. Our Star in Training programme at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve selects individuals in the neighbouring communities that do not have access to tertiary education or training and it affords them valuable on-site training and workplace experience in the tourism and hospitality industry.
In 2014, &Beyond Phinda increased their annual Star in Training enrolment from eight to 28 students. Each “Star” spends six months in the lodge department of their choice. During this time they complete three assessments, and should the mentoring prove effective, a graduation ceremony is held and each Star receives a reference letter and training certificate.
By the end of last year, an impressive 60 Stars have completed the programme, with 14 of those Stars now permanently employed at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve. A further 18 Stars regularly return to Phinda to assist with large groups, weddings and relief shifts, thereby gaining even more valuable experience.
Longtime friends of &Beyond, the Cell C Sharks rugby team regularly visit &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and when they caught wind of our Star in Training programme they actually decided to adopt the idea in their own workplace. They asked us to recommend two Stars that had not yet been able to find permanent employment and they were invited to interview with the Sharks. Xolani and Mondli clearly impressed the Sharks because they were both hired – and this was no mean feat, considering their interviews were actually filmed so that they can be aired on Sharks TV! The duo will join the Sharks for a three-month internship.
So, however you choose to celebrate Global Wellness Day, we hope that you will be inspired to give, move and learn. Remember, life is what you make it, so get out there and get busy living!