JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund - Supporting Wellington Schools
The JR McKenzie Youth Education Fund was set up to assist in the betterment, education, advancement and physical welfare of the youth in the community, particularly in cases where bereavement, sickness or family disturbances leave the children in need of assistance if they are to continue their studies.
In Wellington, due to high demand, the fund is restricted to supporting students with the costs of a school uniform.
In recent years, some Wellington schools have had access to a bulk-funding model in which the school is able to identify students in need, and supply them with uniform items in a way which suits the particular needs of the school and their students.
Below is a letter from the Deputy Principal of a school who has had access to bulk funding, describing the impact of this support. (Identifying details and the name of the school have been removed).
Once again in 2017 we have been extremely grateful for the generosity of the Trustees in granting us $3000 to assist us in the provision of school uniform for children who are in need.
In 2017, we have supported students and their whanau in the purchase and supply of jackets, blazers, shirts, trousers, shorts, skirts, PE uniform, shoes and socks.
Once again, it was apparent that there was a real issue with adequate plain black shoes being provided for some students. With the assistance of your funding, we were able to purchase a number of pairs in different sizes and keep these at school. However, this year we found that we ended up giving the shoes to students rather than loaning them out because many of the whanau could not provide them for their children. I did need to purchase more shoes in this last term but could not do so due to financial constraints.
The middle terms continue to be an issue for whanau when decent shoes and jackets are absolutely necessary to keep the children warm and healthy.
Every year I talk about the situation at our College and the high number of families who live in poverty and dysfunction. 2017 is no exception, in fact we have seen an increase in the numbers of our children and whanau involved with the Ministry of Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki. Without a doubt, we are seeing increasingly disturbing cases of mental health issues and complete family dysfunction.
We simply do not have the means within our own budget to provide the kind of wraparound support that is required. Consequently, assistance from grants such as the J R McKenzie Youth Education Fund allow us to ensure that students at risk have the correct uniform and as a consequence look and feel like they belong here. The young person is then likely to have better attendance and engagement and ultimately achieve success. Often that success may be the first educational success in the entire family, as we witness frequently at our prize givings every year. We believe strongly that education is the key to many of our young people striving for a better life than the one they currently have.
The reality is that without the generosity of your Trustees, it would be impossible for many of our students to come to school adequately clothed and feeling good about themselves. There are few things more embarrassing for young people than knowing the only uniform they own is threadbare, their shoes are coming apart and they can’t do anything about it. I have seen that image many times this year.
I would also like to include the personal reaction of one mother of a year 9 boy. On this occasion the woman came to the office to speak to our receptionist about the embarrassment of simply not being able to afford the uniform. She broke down and spoke about her living situation and how dire it was. When I spoke to her about the assistance we could give her, she was very tearful and also embarrassed at the same time. I told her about the grant we received from you and explained that it was the reason we could help. I know the gratitude was deeply felt by that mother.
I would like to formally and wholeheartedly thank the Trustees for providing our College with the grant of $3,000 this year and acknowledge that this money was used to benefit a great number of our students whom we could not have otherwise assisted.