Change the course of a child’s life this Christmas

AS Tasmanians start to think about the gifts they will share over the festive season, children’s education charity The Smith Family is urging them to also consider stepping up to help change the course of a child’s life by supporting education to break the cycle of poverty.

Launching its annual Christmas Appeal to provide thousands of children living in disadvantage with wrap-around educational support, the charity says it is a critical time to help families doing it tough.

“Christmas is a very special time for many families, but for some it can be a difficult reminder that they’re struggling more than others,” The Smith Family chief executive officer Dr Lisa O’Brien said.

“Right now, there are 1.1 million young Australians struggling daily with the effects of financial hardship brought on by a range of circumstances including accidents, illness or unemployment within the family.

“Our research shows such difficulties can take a tremendous toll on children’s educational outcomes.”

With generous support from the public, The Smith Family aims to raise $4.3 million nationally through its Christmas Appeal.

This will provide more than 10,000 children in 2020 with essential learning support and mentoring programs to help them catch up, and keep up, at school so they can go on to break the cycle of disadvantage.

“More than half of students supported by The Smith Family have a parent or carer who didn’t complete year 12,” Dr O’Brien said.

“This can pose a big obstacle in being able to help children with their homework.

“The parents of these students are doing their absolute best to get their children educated, but they often have the odds stacked against them.

“Challenges include an inability to provide resources for their child’s education, limited access to digital technology and skills, and a lack of knowledge or confidence about how best to support their child’s educational development.”

Research shows The Smith Family’s wrap-around out-of-school learning support for children living in disadvantage increases the likelihood of them finishing year 12.

This, in turn, increases the chances of young people going on to further study, training and a job.

“Completing school gives young people the best chance of experiencing a better future and breaking the cycle of disadvantage,” The Smith Family Tasmania general manager Lesley Mackay said.

“So, this Christmas, the best gift you can give is to change the course of a child’s life by helping us to support their education.”

Along with donations to its Christmas Appeal, the organisation is also calling on the community to donate new toys and books for the 27,000 children it supports, which will be shared with the help of hundreds of volunteers on 15 December.

In Tasmania alone, approximately 1000 children will receive toy and book packs from The Smith Family in time to be enjoyed on Christmas morning.

“The Smith Family was founded at Christmas time in 1922 by five businessmen who, aware of the extent of poverty in their communities, gave gifts to children at a local orphanage,” Ms Mackay said.

“Each year we continue this tradition through our Toy and Book Appeal.

“While the focus of our work today is firmly on helping children by supporting their education year-round, it’s still a priority for us to see them included at Christmas and receiving a gift.”

Australians can help this Christmas by:

  • Making a donation to help a child keep up at school through The Smith Family’s reading and mentoring programs and after-school Learning Clubs.
  • Purchasing a toy or book for a child in need through The Smith Family’s online charity gift shop and/or donating a new toy or book.
  • Sponsoring a child to help them with their education over the long term.
  • Volunteering your time, skills and energy to support The Smith Family’s work.

For more information, visit thesmithfamily.com.au/sharechristmas or phone 1800 024 069.

Caption: The Smith Family volunteers prepare toy and book packs as part of its annual Christmas Appeal.

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About the Author: Eastern Shore Sun

The Eastern Shore Sun is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 30,000 homes and businesses in the communities of Clarence and Sorell. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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