KidsCan Programmes working but more support needed
Low decile schools in the KidsCan Charitable Trust scheme are praising the positive impact the organisation's food, shoes, clothing and health initiatives are having on the learning ability of children experiencing food insecurity, deprivation and poverty related illnesses. The charity, which has been meeting the nutritional and other physical needs of disadvantaged New Zealand children for the past eight and half years, has welcomed the feedback from schools, but says there is still a lot more work to be done.
Says Julie Chapman CEO and Founder of KidsCan "We now assist Kiwi kids in 388 schools throughout New Zealand and, expect this number to increase to around 500 this year. We provide practical support at a grassroots level; ensuring children begin their school day ready and eager to learn. There are however, still thousands of children we need to reach who are going without the basics through no fault of their own."
With support from Government and corporate partners KidsCan's 'Food for Kids' programme currently provides more than 32,000 meals a week for hungry kids and last year the charity introduced 'Health for Kids' in response to requests from schools for help with tackle poverty-related illnesses. This initiative funds prescription medicine, head lice treatments, dental kits and other basic health and hygiene items and is set to expand to reach more children in high-needs communities across the country. In April up to 80,000 items of clothing, raincoats, pants, shoes and socks will also be distributed by the charity to keep children warm this winter.
Says Salvatore Gargiulo Principal of Manurewa High School, "The change in our school since having the KidsCan food has been incredible and we know from our data that important statistics have improved since we started providing 300 sandwiches a day. There is much less fighting and attendance has increased by over 5%. Our performance in NCEA has increased and we are now at the national average, a considerable improvement. We do have students who live in poverty, often they talk about there not being enough food for them because it's essential that their younger brothers and sisters get enough."
"The good news for Kiwi kids is the results of the programmes speak for themselves with teachers also reporting improved self-esteem, better exam results and healthier, happier children," says Chapman. "We purposely work through schools as 'hubs' to ensure donated funds we receive are used in the best way to directly benefit the health and well-being of children in a targeted way. It also means we can work with other like-minded organisations to avoid any duplication of programmes which is paramount when you are a publicly funded organisation."
KidsCan is calling for more caring Kiwis to pledge their support by donating $15 a month (less than 50 cents a day) which will help to fund its ongoing work. This contribution provides a child in need with a raincoat, trousers, shoes, socks and food at school for a year, with 100% of the money getting to the kids. "Back to school time can be a real struggle for many low income families" says Chapman. "But it's this type of ongoing commitment that makes an impact throughout the year. The 'In Our Own Backyard' support programme for Kiwi kids has been running for the past four years. I am sure people will agree, it's sad that there are still many children in New Zealand who need our support, but it's good to know as an individual you can help to ensure we can continue to be there for them as long as we are needed.