Pi­lot aims to give kids ev­ery op­por­tu­nity

Child eq­uity pro­gramme gains sup­port from coun­cil­lors ahead of ap­proval

Rotorua Daily Post - - Front Page -

No chil­dren left be­hind. That’s the idea be­hind a coun­cil-fa­cil­i­tated child eq­uity pro­gramme which is one step closer to re­al­ity after a coun­cil meet­ing.

At Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil’s Strat­egy, Pol­icy and Fi­nance Com­mit­tee meet­ing yes­ter­day, coun­cil strat­egy ad­viser Jill Camp­bell ex­plained the Child Eq­uity Pro­gramme pro­posed to be pi­loted at Sun­set Pri­mary School.

“This is a coun­cil-fa­cil­i­tated pro­gramme to ad­dress in­equities for our lo­cal chil­dren and fo­cus on en­sur­ing Ro­torua is a place for every­one.”

The pro­gramme is in its early stages and over the next few months will be de­vel­oped by the coun­cil in part­ner­ship with Sun­set Pri­mary School.

Camp­bell told the com­mit­tee there were more than 4000, or 41 per cent, of chil­dren aged 9 and un­der liv­ing in Ro­torua with a de­pri­va­tion rat­ing of 9 to 10; the high­est de­pri­va­tion level in New Zealand.

“Our chil­dren in these com­mu­ni­ties are liv­ing in real ma­te­rial hard­ship and many of these chil­dren are go­ing with­out ba­sic needs,” she said.

“We want to chal­lenge our­selves and look at the op­por­tu­nity for our chil­dren to get to the Blue Lake. We want our chil­dren to ride bikes, we want them to par­tic­i­pate in school hol­i­day pro­grammes.

“We want to en­sure they have the op­por­tu­nity to visit a marae, go to the beach, touch the snow and do things some of our other chil­dren take for granted.”

The pro­gramme would see the coun­cil start by mak­ing its ser­vices, like the li­brary and aquatic cen­tre, more ac­ces­si­ble.

After the meet­ing, cur­rent Sun­set Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Niels Ras­mussen said the pro­gramme would pro­vide a great start and give chil­dren the op­por­tu­ni­ties they had been miss­ing out on.

“As prin­ci­pal for a num­ber of years I’ve seen chil­dren in my area miss out on op­por­tu­ni­ties that are avail­able out there for the com­mu­nity. Largely be­cause of the lack of fund­ing within fam­i­lies, lack of knowl­edge of what’s out there and lack of op­por­tu­nity to get there. I’ve seen lots of tal­ented stu­dents whose po­ten­tial has not been re­alised.”

Eden Chap­man will be­come the school’s prin­ci­pal next year so is also work­ing to de­velop the pi­lot pro­gramme.

He told the Ro­torua Daily Post it was im­por­tant for those with the abil­ity to ad­dress eq­uity to do so.

“Kids are miss­ing out in more ways than we can imag­ine. This will help and have a flow-on ef­fect to long-term hopes and as­pi­ra­tions for kids. The num­ber of kids in Ford­lands who have never even been to the lakes would stun most peo­ple.”

Dur­ing dis­cus­sions at the meet­ing, com­mit­tee chair­woman coun­cil­lor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said she sup­ported the pro­gramme.

“There is no doubt that we are an un­equal so­ci­ety . . . No child should be left be­hind.”

Coun­cil­lor Charles Sturt said the pro­gramme would “lead the way” and coun­cil­lor Ta­nia Tapsell said she whole­heart­edly sup­ported the pi­lot.

“I strongly be­lieve peo­ple are our great­est as­set and I be­lieve chil­dren in Ro­torua should never have to doubt they are valu­able and de­serv­ing of ev­ery chance and op­por­tu­nity to take part in com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties.” Group man­ager strat­egy Jean-Paul Gas­ton said to fund the pro­gramme the coun­cil would likely reach out to not-for-profit and phil­an­thropic trusts such as the Nga¯ti Whakaue Ed­u­ca­tion En­dow­ment Trust.

Fund­ing will be part of the plan­ning con­ver­sa­tions over the next few months. The com­mit­tee rec­om­mended to the coun­cil it ap­prove the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pi­lot Child Eq­uity Pro­gramme. The full coun­cil’s next meet­ing is on Novem­ber 22.

I’ve seen lots of tal­ented stu­dents whose po­ten­tial has not been re­alised. Sun­set Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Niels Ras­mussen

Photo / Stephen Parker

Depart­ing Sun­set Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Niels Ras­mussen says the pro­gramme will help chil­dren get a great start.

Zizi Sparks

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