We all remember the excitement of going back to school after the summer holidays. Catching up with your mates, showing off your new backpack that Santa brought. Lunch packed and your stationery freshly durasealled. What a feeling.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the story for thousands of tamariki (kids). Approximately 40,000 kiwi kids go back to school without the basic necessities that we don’t think twice about. This year, principals and teachers are bracing themselves for a tough one as families impacted by COVID-19 struggle to make ends meet.
"It’s awful to think that we’ve got children in New Zealand who have no shoes, or shoes they have outgrown, or shoes that are falling apart because they’re second or third hand. We’ve got children who regularly come to school having not had breakfast and with very little or no lunch. It might be a packet of chips or something that’s just not sustaining them." – Principal.
A lot of kids don’t get the chance to return at all or will arrive in dirty clothes because there’s no washing powder, feeling embarrassed and stressed. Some miss out on camps, sport and other extracurricular activities. This is pretty tough for a kid to deal with and to put it straight, it’s not on.
KidsCan agree and they decided it was time to change the story. So, last month, together with KidsCan we took on the mission to raise $350,000 to help support families with back-to-school costs, and get tens of thousands of kids back to into the classrooms with the essentials they need to get them through the day.
We helped kick off the campaign by contributing 25,000 hot, nutritious meals, because at Meridian, we know how important it is to be fuelled up so that we can keep the energy flowing. We’re stoked to let you know that the campaign has been a huge success, with KidsCan smashing their target and raising well over $350,000!
This is what it looks like…
- 1,585 brekkies
- 686 fleece-lined jackets
- 838 fleece-lined jackets and comfy shoes
- 53,500 hot meals
- 25 pre-schoolers set up with food, clothing and health products for a whole year
Ka mau te wihi (awesome)!! The effort doesn’t stop now though and together we can continue to change the story for kids all over Aotearoa. Get on board – donate today!
We invited a bunch of kids along to Rangiora Airfield to get up close and personal with the electric plane and an electric car. They got to sit in the cockpit while an instructor taught them how the plane worked, and showed them what all the knobs, dials and pedals were for! Being an active airfield, the kids were able to hear the difference between various planes and how much quieter the electric one really is – about 70% quieter in fact! They also had an opportunity to talk to an expert about the ins and outs of how electric transport works. Needless to say, there are now a few kids who want to be pilots when they grow up. New experiences on a Friday? Can’t argue with that.
“I want to be a plane driver when I grow up” - KidsCan future pilot, 20 November 2020
In 2018, early childhood centres were crying out for help for their littlest learners living in hardship. KidsCan responded with nutritious lunches, raincoats, shoes and head lice treatment for under 5s in 25 centres. And it worked.
In a recent study completed by the University of Waikato*, researchers found that after six months in a KidsCan pilot programme, kids were energised, more engaged in learning, and had fewer health issues. In an interview with KidsCan, Neuroscience educator Nathan Wallis noted, “Good nutrition is crucial because a child’s brain is just not going to develop without it... Feeding kids in early childhood is actually just a really smart investment. That’s really where you’re going to make a difference in the whole lifespan.”
KidsCan has since extended the programme to 36 more centres. But even then, there are still almost 4,000 preschoolers waiting for help as the Covid-19 fallout hits under 5s. These are real stories: siblings with only a packet of two-minute noodles to share for the day, children shivering without enough warm clothes, and several families crammed into houses to afford rent. The work KidsCan does to help these whānau is incredible, and we’re proud to have been at their side since 2013. Because it takes all of us to look after our own backyard.
*Source: Impact Evaluation of the KidsCan Early Childhood Pilot Programme
Wind and rain are great ingredients for renewable energy. But they just make matters worse for Kiwi kids living in poverty without good shoes, coats or hot meals. And for many, this will be the toughest winter yet as their families feel the impact of Covid-19.
So with our support, KidsCan are doing something about it. They’re increasing the number of hot lunches they’re providing by 40%, which means 10,000 more kids have the fuel they need. And they’re sending out thousands of fleece-lined jackets and solid shoes so kids make it to school warm and dry.
“So many Kiwi families live in cold, draughty rentals without enough money to heat them properly,” says KidsCan CEO Julie Chapman.
“They might not have a hot meal each day, or enough warm clothes. Life will look like this for more and more of New Zealand’s working poor as they lose their jobs due to Covid-19, and that’s heartbreaking.
“Kids that are cold and hungry can’t focus on learning. It means they’re missing out on education. And education is what will break the cycle of poverty.”
We headed to Favona Primary School in Auckland to give sunhats to those without, so they could get outside and play with their mates. Check out their new playground games, the smiles on their faces and how much difference having a hat makes. This was just the start of our latest project with KidsCan giving 20,000 kids at over 200 schools and 50 early childhood centres throughout New Zealand.