THE POWER OF A PAIR OF SHOES

As lit­tle as $15 a month can make all the dif­fer­ence to the day-to-day life of a child in need.

The New Zealand Herald - Bite - - Food Fyi -

It’s dif­fi­cult to put into words the sense of pride and ex­cite­ment that a child who has never had a brand new pair of shoes ex­pe­ri­ences when they try on their Kid­sCan shoes for the first time.

About 146,000 pairs of th­ese shoes - good qual­ity, durable lace-ups with sturdy soles - and 292,000 pairs of ac­com­pa­ny­ing socks have been supplied for chil­dren in need since 2005 by the New Zealand char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion that aims to meet the phys­i­cal and nu­tri­tional needs of Kiwi kids less for­tu­nate than oth­ers.

Kid­sCan’s mis­sion is to pro­vide food, cloth­ing and ba­sic health­care in low decile schools to en­able chil­dren in need to be more en­gaged in their ed­u­ca­tion and reach their full po­ten­tial, and with sober­ing statis­tics such as “one in four chil­dren in New Zealand are liv­ing with­out the ba­sics”, the or­gan­i­sa­tion needs as much help from us as it can get.

This year Kid­sCan has al­ready dis­trib­uted 5,752 pairs of shoes and 11,504 pairs of socks as part of its Shoes for Kids pro­gramme, and de­mand from New Zealand’s schools con­tin­ues to soar.

A new se­ries of im­ages taken by teach­ers around the coun­try re­veals the state of the hand-me-downs many of th­ese chil­dren have been get­ting about in. They are a sober­ing sight for those of us who don’t think twice about re­plac­ing a pair of shoes as soon as they’re start­ing to look a lit­tle tatty.

Julie Chap­man, Kid­sCan CEO and Founder, says the pho­tos “pro­vide real in­sight into what it is ac­tu­ally like to walk in the shoes of Kiwi kids in need”.

“We have heard of chil­dren end­ing up in the school’s med­i­cal room be­cause their bro­ken, worn-out shoes had made them trip or they had blis­ters all over their feet from hav­ing no soles in­side the shoes.

But Kid­sCan’s hard work is not just about pro­tec­tion for tiny feet. Es­pe­cially over win­ter, schools have found those with­out de­cent footwear may stay home rather than be cold and un­com­fort­able mak­ing the trek to the class­room, let alone the dis­com­fort that can oc­cur get­ting in­volved with school ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Hav­ing a de­cent pair of shoes also al­lows a child to par­tic­i­pate and not have to sit on the side­lines when other chil­dren play sports or go on school trips. Yet, shoes are one of those ba­sic items fam­i­lies liv­ing in ma­te­rial hard­ship of­ten go with­out. That’s be­cause when it comes down to a choice of pay­ing the rent, keep­ing the power on or buy­ing food, shoes get pushed aside,” Chap­man says.

“When you look at the pho­tos of those real worn-out shoes, re­mem­ber they were be­ing worn ev­ery day by real Kiwi kids -- they were all they had to walk to and from school, to do ac­tiv­i­ties in, to wear in win­ter rain, frost or snow be­cause their par­ents could not af­ford to buy another pair.”

Af­ter do­ing re­search on the Shoes for Kids pro­gramme Massey Uni­ver­sity found many pos­i­tive ef­fects, in­clud­ing im­proved school par­tic­i­pa­tion and phys­i­cal health. “For some chil­dren [the Kid­sCan shoes are] the first pair they have ever owned and they can’t be­lieve they are al­lowed to keep them,” the re­search found.

“We have been told that the shoes make the chil­dren feel equal to their peers and give them the sense of be­ing cared for. We have heard of chil­dren cry­ing at re­ceiv­ing their very own, and very first, pair of new shoes and many go over and above to look af­ter them – even clean­ing and shin­ing them daily.”

A new en­trants teacher at a Decile 3 Auck­land school, says the shoes are life-chang­ing for her stu­dents in need, and the high-qual­ity Voda­fone War­riors branded rain­coats, which ev­ery­one in the school re­ceives, are also a source of im­mense pride.

“I see kids wear­ing both items on the week­ends - they’ll wear the coats even if it’s not raining.”

Chap­man says the feed­back from

New Zealand’s schools is over­whelm­ing. “When we part­ner with a school and pro­vide ba­sic items, like a pair of shoes, we have been told by 85 per cent that at­ten­dance in­creases. Even more heart-warm­ing, 92 per cent say since part­ner­ing with us they have seen an im­prove­ment in the self-es­teem of their stu­dents.”

Play­ing your part to help th­ese chil­dren costs as lit­tle as 50c a day, or $15 a month, as a reg­u­lar donor. Your monthly do­na­tion will help a child in so many ways. Kid­sCan is cur­rently feed­ing 32,000 chil­dren a week in 16 re­gions across New Zealand, many of whom need food as­sis­tance daily.

As well as ma­te­rial items such as shoes and socks, rain­coats, health and hy­giene items and food for 709 schools na­tion­wide, there are other im­por­tant ben­e­fits cre­ated by Kid­sCan sup­port: in­creased self-es­teem, con­fi­dence and a sense of be­long­ing and pride.

If you can help, please visit Kid­sCan.org.nz to­day. Your $15 a month will stretch a long way.

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