Like the Backstreet boys, schools back. For many children this means an exciting time of reconnecting with friends, and shopping for trendy clothes and the coolest school supplies. There is however another side to this exciting time that is often overlooked.
Having school supplies affects a student’s social and emotional well-being thus impacting their overall educational experience. A child coming to school in older clothes or run-down supplies is at a higher risk of being bullied for not fitting in than their peers who have the newest fashions. Remember the kid who had the 64 crayon box and sharpener in the back, that alone increased their social status in the classroom. As bizarre or odd as it sounds, having good school supplies and clothes does increase a child’s likelihood of doing well in school.
In Edmonton alone 20% of children under 18 live in poverty. Read that again 20% of children. According to Stats Canada, roughly 215 000 children call Edmonton home. In honour of back to school we will do some quick math, 215 00 x 20%= ~43 000 children live in poverty in our city.
43 000 Children are going back to school right now, and their care givers cannot afford back to school shopping. This is a problem many of the youth we work with face every year. Which is why we were so glad to get a message from Edmonton’s most well-known destination. The “Best Foot Forward School Supplies Drive” initiative was created by West Edmonton Mall (WEM) to combat this reality and support our youth.
When asked what made WEM want to create this drive, Marketing Manager Sarah Ward said, “We knew that we wanted to find a way to help kids within our community feel confident and put their best foot forward when returning to school this year.” She added, “When looking for a community organization to partner with, we came across Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society by seeing the wide variety of initiatives and programs that they undertake to empower Indigenous youth and their families here in Edmonton.”
Upon hearing of this drive, all London Drugs stores across Edmonton jumped in donating and taking donations. Glenda Roberts of London Drugs pointed out how important it is for their organization to support Indigenous communities. Stating, “London Drugs believes in supporting children in need as they transition back to school so that every child has an equal opportunity to learn and grow.” Since then, other stores like the Giant Tiger on 144th ave have pledged school supplies to our youth.
Shirley West who oversees handing out these supplies to youth at Bent Arrow commented “These kind donations will impact youth by giving them the opportunity to be prepared and have the same opportunity as their peers… Children and youth can go to School, feel a sense of pride, and can focus on their schooling needs.” A strong statement emphasizing how vital it is for youth to have proper school supplies and clothes.
Bent Arrow is so grateful to WEM, London Drugs, additional corporate donors, and every person who was gracious to donate to the “Best Foot Forward School Supplies Drive”. You will never know how much of an impact these kind actions will have on these children as they go into a new year of learning and socializing. Hiy Hiy! Thank you!