Reducing childhood inequity focus of planned Rotorua programme

11:51 pm on 11 November 2018

A proposed initiative aimed at tackling childhood inequity will be pitched to the full Rotorua Lakes Council later this month.

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The council-led programme, co-designed with staff at Sunset Primary School, will see students offered extra-curricular activities to enhance their health and wellbeing.

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said the activities would be simple, but important things such as swimming courses and and overdue fine-waivers at the library.

"We have a learn to swim programme at our wonderful Aquatic Centre...but for some children they have an inability to even get to the Aquatic Centre.

"So if we could help with transport to get them there, and then take away the barrier of the cost to the school, then we know that we can help with every child learning to swim."

She said it strongly tied in with Rotorua's 2030 Vision, which included a "sustainable living strategy" focusing on community resilience, wellbeing and health.

That was an area that needed work in the North Island city, where about 41 percent of 0-9 year olds lived in areas of extreme deprivation.

Sunset's principal, Niels Rasmussen, said he had seen many children with huge potential to fall through the gaps because of inequity.

"I've been in that school now for 20 years and over time I've seen a lot of potential All Blacks, netballers, athletes and others who have not actually gone on to achieve their potential because of the financial or the fiscal cost of doing it."

Mr Rasmussen congratulated the council, who he said were forgoing potential profit-making for the good of young people.

"Our school and our know we're dead keen to see what we can do to raise the expectation, raise the knowledge and awareness of what's out there and give kids the opportunity, and greater opportunity to access these facilities and things around town."

He said there was more work to be done in terms of the final programme design, which meant meeting with council representatives next week to iron out the details.

"I believe it's a really positive move and it's a move that a lot of work has gone into and time from council people and discussions with us, so we've got to make a start somewhere," he said.

"You know there's that that old saying...'it takes a village to raise a child.' "