Hawke's Bay schools benefit from KidsCan programme

Thursday, February 7, 2019

The simple act of putting snacks on a table has seen students at Tamatea Intermediate flourish. Not only did their focus improve, but so did the achievement levels.

Now, several months on, and with the help of nationwide charitable trust KidsCan, the needs of about 400 students have been met - regardless of their financial status.

Principal Jo Smith said seeing the diverse range of students and those that could do with some extra assistance prompted them to sign up for the programme.

"It's always thinking about those students and what else you can do for them," she said.

"When you take away all of those barriers to learning and you sort out all of those essential needs before a child enters the classroom, they are set up for success."

Smith said the fact it was open to everyone at the school, meant the stigma associated with asking for help disappeared.

"It doesn't highlight out students that might need it, it is there for everybody and that is what we are finding is so great about this."

She says families have been very supportive and are "very grateful for the assistance".

To date, they have been given shoes, jackets, health items and food for those who need it. 
The school is one of 57 in the region who receive assistance from KidsCan. In 2018, 1706 shoes, 4361 raincoats, 13,037 health items, 16,658 hot meals and 309,122 food items.

KidsCan's chief executive Julie Chapman said their data shows one in every five children in low-decile schools around New Zealand go to school without enough food to fuel them.

"Every day they survive on very little. So there's no money for new stationery, or school bags, or expensive uniforms - many don't even know how they'll afford to put food in their child's lunch box."

"We know when parents feel ashamed that they can't make ends meet, some don't send their children to school. Those that do go, start on the back foot because they don't have the right clothes, and they're hungry."

Chapman says she is seeing no letup in need, which is putting huge pressure on schools.

"One principal spent her holidays washing lost property to give to families who can't afford uniforms. They're doing so much more than teaching."

"Many schools have stopped asking for fees or donations, just to make sure they get kids in the door. But what they can offer in terms of equipment, extracurricular activities and class size suffers.

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