By: Stephanie Arthur-Worsop
Video: Sunset Primary School pupils with Fordlands Community Association volunteers Amos Taumanu, 16, and Tumanako Waretini, 15.
The group started the initiatives on Monday and the response has been “beyond positive”.
Sunset Primary School principal Niels Rasmussen said the association approached him wanting to help the pupils.
“These are rangatahi who want to give back to their community. Many of them are ex-Sunset pupils who know what it’s like to be in the same position as these children.
“It means a huge amount to us that they want to give back to the school, their enthusiasm is right up there and our kids get such a buzz out of getting to play with the older kids.
“As an educator it is great to see past pupils come back with such a positive view of their primary school experience.”
Mr Rasmussen said the lunches were already making a difference for the children.
“Many of our children don’t want to admit they have no lunch. [Yesterday] there were two kids on our list who said they had no lunch but the 20 packs made by the association were all snapped up.
“This may be the first week but all the volunteers are committed and so far the response has been beyond positive, from a school and a community perspective.”
Fordlands Community Association youth co-ordinator Tia Clarke said her reward was seeing the children happy and engaging with the volunteers.
“It’s all about building up the confidence and leadership of the children. Even in the first week the children are running up to us, eager to participate.”
“The idea started with making lunches because our rangatahi wanted to make a difference to these children’s everyday lives. From there it grew to include the sports programme.
“Both the youth and these kids get labelled and have stereotypes attached to them just because of the area they come from but these are good people and have potential – it’s about identifying that potential and helping it grow.”
Youth volunteer Harmony Sylva, 17, is a former Sunset pupil.
“We wanted to help make our old school even better. We’ve all been in a position where we don’t have lunch and know how hard that is so being in a position to help fix that feels good,” Harmony said.
“I just like seeing the kids laughing, they look to us as leaders and that makes me want to do even more,” Javanaah Roimata-Karaka, 16, added.
Sunset pupils Renee Taramai, 10, and Nikeisha Scanlon, 10, said they enjoyed having the volunteers at the school.
“I like playing the games the most, it’s fun because they’re young and can run around with us,” Renee said.
“I’m looking forward to them coming back. I like being able to play rippa rugby with them,” Nikeisha said.
Source: Rotorua Daily Post