KidsCan founder Julie Chapman busts child poverty myths

KidsCan founder Julie Chapman busts child poverty myths

Sunday, May 15, 2016

KidsCan founder and chief executive Julie Chapman spoke at the Rotary District Conference in Invercargill on Sunday.

Growing up, KidsCan founder and chief executive Julie Chapman had everything she needed.

She had warm clothing, healthy food to eat, and shoes on her feet.

To her, this was unacceptable.

Chapman didn't believe it was fair that she had all of life's necessities, yet there were children in New Zealand who couldn't even get the basics.

So, she did something about it. In 2005 she cofounded the KidsCan Charitable Trust in her Auckland garage.

Chapman spoke about her trust at the Rotary District 9980 Conference at ILT Stadium Southland on Sunday.

She addressed more than 200 people about her vision to abolish the problem from the country.

"It's great to have a lot of people in one room together to bust some of the myths around child poverty," Chapman said.

She believed Rotary had a lot of power to continue raising the issue and busting those myths.

A big part of the problem was the perception that it came down to parents spending money on the wrong things, such as gambling, alcohol, and
cigarettes, she said.

However, Chapman believed most parents did their best with that they had to make ends meet, with them often spending more than 60 per cent of
their income on rent payments.

It was important to look after today's children as they would be New Zealand's future workforce, she said.

People who lived in poverty when they were young were more likely to be unemployed as adults and have children who would also grow up in
hardship.

Upon creating KidsCan, Chapman found at first it was difficult to get people to understand there was a problem with child poverty in New Zealand.
She learnt about the issue by reading a growing number of media reports that some children were going without the basics.

Chapman conducted an evaluation in 80 low decile schools to see how widespread the problem was and how it was affecting children in the
classroom.

The results were overwhelming and the problem meant it was having a major impact on their learning ability, selfesteem
and health.

KidsCan came together with a $40,000 grant from New Zealand Guardian Trust and more than 10 years on has provided food, clothing, shoes and
basic hygiene items to hundreds of low decile schools throughout the country.

District governor Karen Perdue said about 365 people attended the conference held over the weekend in Invercargill.
The purpose of the conference was to celebrate the achievements of Rotary and to hear from speakers who would inspire members to carry on
their work, Perdue said.

As part of the conference Rotarians held a march at the Invercargill Velodrome in support of Rotary International's efforts to eradicate polio, she
said.

About 300 members took part in the march, Perdue said.

"We wanted to acknowledge that we're still committed to eradicating Polio."

Polio was still in Afghanistan and Pakistan and every other country in the world was still at risk until polio was eradicated, Perdue said.

"We may be in the deep south but it's an important issue for our children."

The district held a collection during the conference and raised $3200 which would be matched with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation, Perdue said.

More than 33,000 clubs around the world contribute to the polio campaign, she said.