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Rotorua child equity programme
7 June 2019
Rotorua child equity programme
Eden Chapman is seeing a difference in the students at Rotorua's Sunset Primary School just six months after the start of a pilot child equity programme.
The school's principal says it is “immensely satisfying to see real tangible progress” on the various projects underway.
The pilot scheme is a collaboration between Rotorua Lakes Council and Sunset Primary School and aims to improve children’s access to services and opportunities that will make a potentially life-changing difference into adulthood.
An update on the programme was included in this week’s Operations & Monitoring committee meeting agenda. (The update can be found on Page 38 of this agenda)
The initial focus of Phase 1 has been to ensure equitable access to extra-curricular, community and Council services for participating children and their whānau.
The wider community is also seeing changes as part of the Fordlands Reinvigoration Project.
Council has been engaging with the Fordlands community, including the community association and schools, to identify and prioritise improvements through the neighbourhood reinvigoration project. Staff are working closely with the strategy team to co-ordinate with the Child Equity Programme and with infrastructure staff in relation to cycleways to leverage other initiatives and potential funding.
As part of the Child Equity programme, children at Sunset Primary now have access to the Making a Difference Swim Programme, school holiday programmes, oral language programmes, and school sports teams.
Other things in progress include Bikes in Schools and a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programme.
The Bike-On Trust is partnering with Council to deliver Bikes in Schools which ensures children have access to learning to ride a bike. The Bike-On Trust has made a contribution towards a class fleet of bikes, helmets and storage. Council is allocating $50,000 towards creating a sealed bike track around the school field, which will be available for community use outside of school time.
Council has also partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters to mentor children at Sunset Primary. Participating staff will be given an hour a week, during work time, to undertake their Big Brother or Big Sister role, mentoring children who are missing an adult role model in their life.
Mr Chapman says six months in to the programme, there is some real momentum building.
“At the school we are being kept really busy putting all the various opportunities into action.  It is quite obvious that the council are putting real support behind the pilot, and making sure that as much as possible can be learned about where council can make the most difference and the best impact.”
He says it’s great to see the various projects progressing.  
“Installing rugby posts last term felt really symbolic to me. We have raised $170,000 this year for a new playground and I’m now taking appointments from different playground providers to present our students and community with concepts to consider. We are also looking forward to planning the implementation of the Bikes in Schools programme in close partnership with Council.
"It’s time to make a difference for this school and community.”
Mr Chapman says the students have been really enthusiastic about the sporting opportunities and cultural activities that have been added to the school programme this year. 
“Whānau are coming on board to help with trips and sports although we definitely need more.  Not a day goes by without a student asking me how planning for the playground or bike track’s going.”
He says regular visitors to the school comment on how the students are more enthusiastic at break times and are playing more actively than in recent times. 
“We are getting a lot of great feedback from whānau and the wider community about the improvements we are making at the school and with opportunities for our students.” 
Mr Chapman says it is also great to see wider community support.
“The other day we had 70 delegates from a Ballance Agri-Nurtrients conference come to school to complete a working bee, and one of the teams built a huge sandpit, which is proving very popular with students.
He says the school still needs support for other activities including the oral language programme, basketball coaching and/or transport, and Breakfast Club. 
Oral language programme
This involves 3 two-hour sessions per week helping students to expand and improve their oral language.  It would involve working in structured sessions with four students one-on-one for half an hour each. 
Basketball coaching and/or transport
Help is needed getting students, and in some cases parents, to Miniball. There is one team on Mondays and three teams on Fridays and some vans are available if needed.  Games start from 4pm, last game 8pm, and the commitment of for anyone taking a team is about 1.5 hours which includes transporting students to and from games and watching the games. 
Coaches are also needed.
Breakfast Club / Fruit & Milk in Schools
At the moment we need some volunteers to be at school from 7:45am-9:15am to set up, deliver and clean up from breakfast.  At the moment we are looking for volunteers to take over from our existing volunteer on Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday. After this the volunteers could also help with distributing milk, and on Monday or Wednesday Fruit.
If you can help with any of the above contact Sunset Primary School on 07 348 4289 or email