Susan Johnson

What began in 2012 by a group of women with six pilot schools, has grown to include all primary and intermediate schools in the Nelson/Tasman district, and in the first six years 500 pairs of shoes and sports boots have been provided.

The school receiving the 500th pair is St Paul’s Catholic School in Richmond, and Maureen Phillips, the principal, thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

“ At the beginning of the year, there’s a lot of strain on the family budget, stationary, school fee’s, uniform and, if they have more than one child, I think it’s a lot to ask from some families.

How it works is, I get a signed form, the parent’s give permission and then a voucher is issued. It’s handled in a very sensitive way. Then the family can enjoy the shopping experience without the worry.”

Walk With Us is a non-profit organization with eight trustees and several associate members. It has an association with Big Brothers Big Sisters and partnerships with local footwear providers: Stirling Sports, Nelson and Richmond, Shoe Clinic Nelson, No. 1 Shoes and Whitwell’s Motueka.

The Trust issues vouchers for good quality footwear to families financially struggling and, despite the need appearing to be on the increase, with the generous help of the suppliers they managed to accept every application. This reinforces the fact that there is an obvious need for support for families under financial stress. Shoe vouchers enable families to spend on other essentials.

Helen Taylor-Young from Victory school believes the charity is of real benefit to the children, especially the senior boys. “The gift of quality shoes has allowed them to play sports to the maximum of their potential and not only has the programme provided students with equality, it has contributed to the whole community. It helps families feel less isolated because of financial difficulty.”

The Walk With Us funds come from fundraising events and they are hugely dependant on community support to ensure the event can offer some amazing auction items.

They also appreciate local school principals, teachers and administrators who identify children in their school in need of shoes and/or families going through financial hardship that could do with some help. If you would like to help visit www.walkwithus.co.nz

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