Utility Ben Henry (pictured) was right in the thick of it handing out Vodafone Warriors-branded KidsCan raincoats to pupils at Onepoto School on Auckland’s North Shore on Monday.
Henry, who’s recovering from a short-term knee injury, mingled with kids from the small school (roll 106) which boasts His Vodafone Warriors team-mate Kevin Locke among its former pupils.
There to capture Henry’s involvement and the kids’ obvious excitement at the Raincoats for Kids event was the New Zealand Herald and the North Shore Times.
A photo story was given strong coverage in the Herald today providing a total contrast to a major announcement surrounding the appointment of Andrew McFadden as Vodafone Warriors acting head coach to the end of the 2014 NRL season.
The Vodafone Warriors and KidsCan launched a three-year partnership last year which saw 16,000 disadvantaged Kiwi kids receive branded Vodafone Warriors raincoats to keep them warm and dry.
KidsCan is now partnering with 388 low decile schools nationwide and this year more than twice the number of Vodafone Warriors-branded raincoats will be distributed to partner schools before winter hits.
Children in low decile schools who don't have adequate waterproof clothing often stay home when it rains. Those that do arrive at school without a coat turn up freezing cold, wet and unable to learn.
This leads to increased illness and reduced attendance at school.
The Raincoats for Kids programme shows how the gift of a simple coat helps to increase school attendance levels on wet days by keeping children warm and dry and enabling them to arrive at school in a better position to learn.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Vodafone Warriors. This is a partnership that will not only keep thousands of disadvantaged children dry this winter but will also help to inspire them to come to school to make the most of the opportunity to learn,” said KidsCan Founder and CEO Julie Chapman.
“Vodafone Warriors players are wonderful role models for our children, with some having attended the very schools we now support.”
Vodafone Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said the club as a whole and the players particularly derived huge satisfaction through seeing the joy the Raincoats for Kids programme had brought to the lives of so many school children.
“We’re thrilled to come on board last year and have the chance to be able to lend our support to KidsCan and this fantastic initiative,” he said.
“Our values are built around a commitment to supporting our kids and our communities in the best way we can. Our goal is to make a difference to people’s lives and this couldn’t be a better way of achieving it.”
KidsCan also provides other practical basics including food, shoes and socks for children in its partner schools. Currently 32,000 meals a week are distributed to children who experience regular food insecurity and 20,000 pairs of shoes and 40,000 pairs of socks will also go out to protect little feet this winter.
“Our kids are our future and society will benefit as a whole if we show our commitment to the health and well-being of all New Zealand children right now,” said Chapman.