Aorangi Programme making a difference
Through its Aorangi Sponsorship Programme, Living Springs is supporting up to eight low decile Canterbury schools a year to attend camps.
The programme builds the financial and practical bridges for communities that would other-wise be unable to afford the unique benefits of this camping experience.The Aorangi Sponsorship Programme was established in 2009, when Aorangi Primary, a decile three school in Bryndwr, faced closure by the Ministry of Education.
“It was quite traumatic,” says Living Springs manager Denis Aldridge. “Bryndwr is a low-income area with a lot of migrant families, refugees, gang families, all sorts. The school was their ‘safe place’.”
Living Springs contacted Aorangi Primary’s principal with an offer of a totally free camp to bring the whole school community together one last time, fundraising $10,000 to cover the cost. “As well we organised buses and brought the kids through the Lyttelton tunnel on the way to Living Springs.
When the kids saw the harbour they all clapped. For some of them, it was the first time they had ever seen the sea.”On the second night of camp, Living Springs brought all the families over for a huge banquet, dressing up the dining room with decorations and fairy lights.
Some of the teachers cried when they saw the setup, saying no one had ever done anything like this for these children. “It was an amazing time,” Denis says. “We started looking at our own statistics to see who came through Living Springs. 50% of all the schools we’d hosted were decilenine and ten.
“Deciles one, two, three, and four combined made up about 16% of our throughput. They simply can’t afford to come to places like this.”And Denis says during the past 10 years, the situation has got even worse. “
“We’ve got to do what we can. We’re not out there running breakfast programmes or budget programmes. “We do camps. We can bring them over to this environment knowing how therapeutic and how healing it is.
We named this programme after Aorangi School and last year we had eight schools through. “This year we’re aiming for 600 kids, and we’ve got to raise $100,000 to do it. The call to action starts now.”. Funds are raised in various ways.
Living Springs receives periodical support from a number of trusts and corporate groups, and some corporate groups have taken on the sponsorship of a classroom or an entire school. One corporate group has sponsored Rowley Avenue School, one of the poorest schools in Christchurch, for the past four years.
Others have donated resources like food and sports gear. A fundraising dinner targeting towards the $100,000 needed this year is happening at the Commodore Airport Hotel on March 19. Aorangi is also the Maori name for Mt Cook and means ‘cloud piercer’.
Donations to the Aorangi Sponsorship programme will assist with its goal of helping children – especially those living under a metaphorical cloud – to come up the mountain and catch a glimpse of the world from a different perspective.
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