Helping kids to fit in and fulfil their potential
The Back to School program provides $50 vouchers, which are redeemable at Target Country or designated local stores. FRRR works with community organisations to determine those students in greatest need in small rural communities. Vouchers are then distributed to struggling families to spend on items such as school uniforms, shoes, clothing, backpacks and stationery.
The Origin Foundation is a supporter of the program, giving families in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia a helping hand with school commencement costs. FRRR has recently received feedback on the impact of these small grants and it’s apparent that the difference this small voucher can make is very real.
A school principal in South Australia reported that the vouchers help students to be on a level with their peers and not stand out due to their clothing.
In another story, a child in Tasmania who had repeatedly asked his single mother why he couldn’t have the same shoes as the other kids finally got a pair of “proper” school shoes.
His mother wrote to say she no longer has to endure watching her son feel “different” due to their financial circumstances.
Staff at several schools reported that before the vouchers were distributed, a few students had shoes that were falling apart and held together by tape.
Because of their old, worn-out shoes, the kids were being bullied and ostracised. However, once they had new shoes, the children were accepted and became more confident, both inside and outside the classroom.
Being properly equipped and clothed – or as the kids put it having ‘good gear’ - also helps students to reach their potential, especially if they are interested in playing sports and want to participate in interschool competitions.
One student in Victoria who displayed a talent for cross country running used the voucher to replace his shoes, which had been barely holding together. He went on to perform a personal best in his event and moved up to the next level. The school reported that this did wonders for his self-esteem which transferred to his academic results.
The Back to School program is a tangible way to make a difference to families that need a little helping hand. This year the program assisted more than 13,000 children, and with the support of The Origin Foundation, another 2,500 kids in rural and remote areas all over Australia will benefit in the coming year.