KidsCan filling gaps for youngsters
By Anne-Marie McDonald
Working with KidsCan has provided numerous benefits for Aranui School.
The children's charity organisation has been helping the Castlecliff-based school for four years, providing everything from snack bars to raincoats.
"We started off just with the food, and we've been able to access more help as KidsCan has expanded," Aranui School principal Maryann Roberts said.
At Aranui, KidsCan provides snack bars, fruit pottles, scroggin and other food, including hot lunches for some children; raincoats and beanies; tissues, plasters, soap and head lice treatment.
Miss Roberts said the assistance from KidsCan made a big difference to the well-being of the pupils. "The food means that none of our kids have to go hungry, and that has had a huge impact on their behaviour and their ability to learn." The raincoats mean the kids can stay dry and are less likely to get sick in winter. The tissues, plasters and head lice treatment also help them stay healthy.
Miss Roberts said the sad reality was that children often turned up to school hungry; they had no lunch, or not enough lunch.
"KidsCan's help means that, whatever the reason for the kids not having food, they don't have to go without.
"And there's no stigma around it - everyone gets the food, everyone gets a raincoat." However, Miss Roberts said if a child was regularly turning up to school without food, the school would contact the family to find out what was the problem.
"Sometimes families need a bit of extra support, and we can help them access that," Miss Roberts said.
She said before KidsCan started providing assistance to the school, it often fell to the staff to provide food for hungry children.
"The kids really love the food, and fortunately it isn't high in sugar - I was a bit worried about that at first." KidsCan provides support to 58 per cent of decile 1-4 schools in New Zealand, making a total of 600 schools.
In Whanganui, KidsCan provides help to 15 schools: Aranui, Castlecliff, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tupoho, Te Kura o Kokohuia, Tawhero, Rutherford Junior High, Gonville, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Atihaunui a Paparangi, Keith St, Whanganui Girls College, Upokongaro, Churton, Aberfeldy and Mangamahu.
Whangaehu School, Okoia School, Ruapehu College and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Rangi are on the waiting list for KidsCan.