Winter Appeal raises funds for life-changing learning programs

CHILDREN’s education charity The Smith Family launched its 2020 Winter Appeal to raise funds to deliver life-changing learning and mentoring programs to students in need.

With one in six Australian children and young people already living below the poverty line, The Smith Family Tasmanian general manager Lesley Mackay said this year’s appeal was one of the most important in The Smith Family’s history given students had been severely disrupted by COVID-19.

“Students across the country were forced into home learning, with 23 per cent of students on of ‘Learning for Life’ sponsorship program not having a home computer with reliable internet access,” she said.

“Although students have now returned to classrooms, they will need additional support with research out of think-tank the Grattan Institute projecting that disadvantaged children are up to six weeks behind in their schoolwork following the Coronavirus shutdown.”

Ms Mackay said The Smith Family was an important charity for Tasmanian children and families.

“The Smith Family’s learning, support and mentoring programs help children in need to fit in at school, keep up with their peers and build aspirations for a better future for themselves,” she said.

“More than 6000 students, parents, carers, educators and community members across the state participated in the full range of our learning and support programs last financial year.”

“Funds raised during the Winter Appeal will help many of these children through enabling access to a range of education programs.”

For more than 30 years, The Smith Family has helped tens of thousands of children thrive in their education through a range of targeted programs that begin in the early years of schooling and continue to tertiary level.

“We know that the education gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, at age 15, is equivalent to around three years of schooling,” The Smith Family chief executive officer Dr Lisa O’Brien said.

“Sadly, the children who need that extra bit of support to keep up at school are from families who can least afford it, or often, provide it.”

Dr O’Brien said the out-of-school learning and mentoring programs The Smith Family provided gave young people the skills and motivation they needed to stay in school and experience first-hand the value of finishing year 12 to open up opportunities.

“During this time, we are also delivering many of these life-changing programs remotely – including online mentoring and literacy and numeracy programs,” she said.

“This helps relieve some of the pressure on families, and helps deliver educational structure, during periods of remote learning, and when children are back in the classroom.”

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