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.