MILLIONS of Australian students are heading back to school this month – but one in six are at risk of going without basic essentials like textbooks, stationery, uniforms and shoes.
Joshua [last name withheld for privacy] knows just how tough that can be.
But thanks to children’s charity The Smith Family, Joshua – and thousands of other young Australians – are making the most of their education and achieving their academic dreams.
Joshua first had contact with The Smith Family in grade eight after his parents separated.
His mother worked hard to support three children as a single parent, but it was a constant struggle to make ends meet.
“The financial support my mother and I received from The Smith Family was invaluable,” Joshua said.
“It removed the stress of buying books, stationary and uniforms through high school and college.
“It put me on a level playing field with the other kids in my class.
“Now as I look back, I’m able to see how significant this support was, and continues to be.”
A tertiary scholarship from The Smith Family is now allowing Joshua to pursue his passion by studying Japanese as part of a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Tasmania.
He’s already planning a trip to Japan to teach English to Japanese students.
“Now I have a clear career aspiration – something I may not have had if I didn’t attend university,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for The Smith Family’s support, I don’t know if I would have ever dreamt of being able to work overseas.
“I may not have been able to pursue what interests me either – I’d just be working as much as I could, and my passion would be put to the side.
“My life would be completely different.”
For the sixth straight year, Officeworks is teaming up with The Smith Family to sponsor more than 1000 disadvantaged school children in 2019.
Held each January and February, Officeworks’ annual Back to School Appeal raises funds – including more than $460,000 last year – for The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, with money raised by each store going to help disadvantaged students in the local area.
“Just a little bit of support can help put them on a really important path,” Joshua said.
“It can give them career aspirations and prospects that they may have never thought possible.”
For more information on the campaign, visit www.thesmithfamily.com.au.
Caption: The Smith Family has helped Joshua achieve his dreams.