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Research Proves Kidscan Programmes Help

Research Proves Kidscan Programmes Help Disadvantaged Kiwi Children Perform Better At School

Teaching staff in some New Zealand low decile schools have reported marked improvements in self esteem, attendance, behaviour, performance and pride in their school after receiving free food and raincoats from the KidsCan Charitable Trust.

A study by Massey University (released in April 2007) highlighted the “internationally unique” ‘Raincoats for Kids’ as well as the ‘Food for Kids’ programmes initiated by KidsCan.

KidsCan is a national charity meeting the basic physical and nutritional needs of financially disadvantaged children so they are in a better position to reach their full potential in school. With the support of Warehouse Stationery and Conferenz the charity has now distributed 24,300 free adidas All Blacks branded raincoats and food each week to 7,500 hungry kids. KidsCan has also provided 4,000 pairs of shoes and 8000 pairs of socks to children with support from number 1 Shoe Warehouse. KidsCan currently has a waiting list of more than 22,000 children in need of help.

In the 2007 document, ‘Full Tummies and Dry Clothes: Evaluating the KidsCan Programmes’ Author, Professor Mike O’Brien says “It is resoundingly clear that gifting a normally expensive and quality item has made a huge impression on the children for whom this rarely, if ever occurs”.

Schools in the evaluation were all in high rainfall areas. Parts of Auckland and Northland experience 130 rainy days a year. The study shows that disadvantaged kids are either being kept away from school or are arriving cold and wet in inclement weather because raincoats have become luxury items in low income households. Having received a free raincoat has made a big difference in attendance. Teachers comments included, “When it rains hard a lot of children are [kept] away. Those with the raincoats are happy to come to school because they don’t get wet, they told me that”, and “because they are dry, generally they did not cough or have a stuffy nose. Other children without the coats are sniffing or coughing”. Page 2 of 2

As part of the Massey research one teacher said “We see the children who are not getting food in the morning and now those children are excelling in the classroom”. Another commented on a boy who had behaviour problems, “He hasn’t had breakfast and he doesn’t have lunch, he gets food at dinner time. He’s 11 and he’s academic – he’s got a brain. We give him two fruit salads and two muesli bars and he’s just excelled. His behaviour has improved. He’s showing respect, he’s interacting with the other children, before he was calling them names, just really negative”.

Another Principal reported that some kids were arriving at school hungry and unhappy, their only food intake at school being water.

Professor O’Brien commented, “If it is true that children fill their tummies on what they get from the water fountain this is indeed an indication of the serious level of hunger faced by some children in New Zealand today”. The author went a step further by concluding that government should play its role in addressing poverty.

ends

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