Wairarapa principal says 'fantastic' Kidscan support has positive effect on kids

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Donations of food, clothing and other items have improved school life for some   Masterton students and helped changetheir outlook on education.  

Hohepa Campbell, the principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Wairarapa, said the school applied for Kidscan assistance because every so often there were students who arrived at school who needed help.

"Often it was just a case of the students not quite having enough food on certain days, frequently at the end of their parents' pay cycle, or if a big bill had come along."

Assistance was given discreetly because children generally didn't like being singled out as needing help.

Sometimes there wasn't enough money for a raincoat or new shoes during a period of wet weather and Kidscan could support that need. Food, hygiene products and clothing were available. 

The support had led to better educational outcomes with well-fed and comfortably attired students engaging better with school work, Campbell said.  

"We take more care around when the children eat now, we eat together in the hall so we can make sure everyone has enough. It comes back to something fundamental to our school and Maori in general, the concept of manaaki, or 'caring for each other'. 

"Many of our parents find it tough to get by but they do their best, though sometimes they just don't have enough. Kidscan has helped us become more aware of individual needs. 

"It's been fantastic and it's increased our awareness and ability to see if someone needs help. It's also helped the children feel they are part of a team," Campbell said.

Kidscan chief executive Julie Chapman said the charity supported 31,000 students at 700 schools across New Zealand by providing food. A further 2652 students from 19 schools were on the waiting list.

Schools had found the assistance had been an effective way to help families deal with a big power bill or a car repair bill which could come up out of nowhere. It also helped families who struggled because of high rents and low wages.

 Some schools had a special lunch room where children could go if they didn't have enough food that day or a food box somewhere where children could pop into across the day, she said.

"The schools deliver the programme and we provide them with advice and examples of how to do so based on almost 13 years of running the charity."

Chapman said the impact of Kidscan could not be underestimated. Positive results showed a decrease in bullying, fighting and an increase in classroom engagement.

"Our work depends on the generosity of the people and businesses of New Zealand as well as the government. We are meeting with Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) soon to discuss funding.

"Hopefully we can continue to offer the amount of help we currently do to children who need it."