CABE: Help Build Our New Kitchen
$750 raised
1% of $55k goal
4 contributors
75 Weeks running

At the Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education school (CABE), seventeen-year-old Tanis Hanson attends the Coquitlam Alternative Basic Education school (CABE). She loves the school, she said, as four-month-old Zaylia was bounced on her knee.

“It makes learning easy,” said Hanson, who lives in Aunt Leah’s Place — a residence for young mothers where she can stay until she is 19. “It takes away a lot of stress.”

When she graduates, she is planning to become a pediatric nurse and is hoping to take advantage of a unique post-secondary scholarship program provided to the school by Wesbild Holdings.

The program was devised by Nezhat Khosrowshahi, whose family owns Wesbild and has supported Adopt-A-School since its inception in 2011 with significant donations for food and other assistance to schools in Coquitlam and Vancouver.

She offers scholarships that allow CABE mothers to attend university or other post-secondary institutions or trade schools once they graduate.

There is a row of photographs of successful post-graduate student mothers on the wall at the school.

One of the first students of the program has now completed a criminology degree at SFU and next year will be studying law at UBC.

“Who gets out with a degree, a baby and no student loan?” asked CABE youth worker Jill Allen, pointing to a photograph of her former student with no lack of pride.

“She’s blessed and so are we for having Naz’s support,” said Allen. “We’ve told Tanis it will be available for her, too.”

Meanwhile, The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund, which administers the Adopt-A-School program, has so far received requests from schools for almost $500,000 to help deal with hunger and poverty across the province.

Surrey, the largest school district in B.C. and with many refugees settling there, is asking for more than $240,000 in aid.

Harold Munro, editor of The Sun and Province newspapers and chair of the Children’s Fund board, said he was heartened by the response of readers to the campaign to date.

“We still have a long way to go and the need is great, but I’m optimistic,” said Munro. “Our readers have never let us down and they realize this is an important issue which needs all our support.”

The Vancouver Sun’s seventh annual Adopt-A-School campaign is under way, and we are again asking readers to consider the plight of children who come to school unfed, improperly dressed and suffering the psychological effects of living in poverty.

We are not talking about a few children.  We are talking about thousands.

They are found in every school district in this province, no exceptions.

Last year the Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund, which administers Adopt-A-School (AAS), distributed $604,000 in emergency funds to 86 schools across the province to help alleviate the most two most common forms of suffering — hunger and lack of proper clothing.

And while much of the money was spent in this way, there were also grants to help teachers heal some of the psychological damage to children whose lives are so blighted by poverty that they are arriving in school at their wit’s end.

Money was spent on supplying and equipping sensory rooms where children can decompress and be soothed into a state where they can function and learn and on other therapeutic programs that teachers tell us they need.

“Since AAS began in 2011 we have sent almost $4 million to teachers and principals struggling to deal with the effects of poverty, in almost all cases, without resources,” said Harold Munro, editor of the Vancouver Sun and The Province and chair of The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund board.

When a parent shows up at a school in tears with no food in the home and no money to buy any what are they supposed to do?

It happens regularly in schools all across the province.

“For teachers and principals it must be heartbreaking and this newspaper does not think it right that this burden should be borne by them alone,” Munro said.

“We are all in this together, these are our children and it is immoral to ignore the wants of the poor.”

AAS has:

* Provided money for emergency food vouchers.

*  Supported programs that distribute food in order to get impoverished families through the weekend.

* Bought beds to get children off the floor, or to replace those infested with bedbugs.

* Bought lice kits.

* Provided money to a special unit that deals with the most vulnerable students in danger of being sexually exploited or tempted to join gangs for no other reason than not having enough money to buy a meal or a decent winter coat.

It has got to the point that we are seeing not only concern from adults but from students.

The last campaign showed that children in the Gulf Islands were bringing extra food to feed hungry friends who had none. In Langley three teenagers set up their own program to feed needy families over weekends.

This campaign tell the story of how high school students in a Vancouver school have been moved to organize their own breakfast program after discovering  that a quarter of the school’s students were without food at home at least once during a month.

So the problem is obvious to school districts, principal, teachers and now other students.

The Vancouver Sun has never said a critical word about any political party in relation to the AAS campaign, except to ask the government of the day to do something.

We are repeating that request to this new government.

In the meantime we are again asking our readers to support our campaign. Your generosity has carried us this far.

You have fed thousands of children, helped hundreds of families.

“We can’t do it without you,” Munro said.


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