One of the things that is incredibly close to our heart here at footsteps is our commitment to communities. This aspect makes us unique as it drives us forward as an organisation because we believe that the most needy parts of the community need access to the best quality early education.
We stand by the proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and our teachers/kaiako work in partnership with all members of the community to nurture and educate our nation’s children. We do this by welcoming every child into our learning programme with open arms, irrespective of colour, religion, nationality or background.
This goes hand-in-hand with the work we do with community organisations such as Child, Youth and Family, Jigsaw, Plunket, Open Home Foundation, Homes of Hope, and Strengthening Families to reach more whānau that can benefit from our expertise.
What we mean is we don't just say...we do:
Here are just some of the initiatives we are involved with in the community to help children reach their full potential, operated through our non-profit educational trust.
Free Papakura Drop-In Centre
Te Pōtiki Drop-In Centre is a free centre for tamariki/children aged zero to five, their parents and their caregivers in the heart of Papakura to connect communities and encourage ECE participation. The centre hosts daily activities and have lots of fun learning resources and toys for the children to play with. At Te Pōtiki there are also workshops available for parents and caregivers to learn new skills from our Footsteps teachers/kaiako. Below is a a video about the success of the initative and an example of how Footsteps give back.
Footsteps Community Chest
We were concerned with the number of children and whānau we had to walk away from because they did not fit the Ministry of Education requirements. This gave us an idea to grant each teacher/kaiako a wish - to find a special child that cannot not be supported under the normal Ministry of Education criteria and we will fund the entire learning programme ourselves. In doing so, we are able to give more children in diverse communties the best start.
Auckland Region Woman's Correction Facility
We had a dream to reach mothers in prison who had been separated from their babies and young children, to help them stay connected and be a part of their early years learning. When their children/tamariki and caregivers/kaitiaki become part of the footsteps programme, the mothers are provided with regular updates through our learning journeys, photo stories and WOW moments so they can see how their child is learning developing, as well as gaining their input. The reaction from the mothers in seeing and hearing about their children/tamariki learning every month has been priceless.
Tauranga Community Gardens
We sponsor a community garden in Tauranga from Lets Get Growing (letsgetgrowing.org.nz) to encourage our children/tamariki and their caregivers/kaitiaki to get involved in some hands on learning by doing things like growing seeds, weeding and watering plants. It is a great initiative as it gives the children a sense of respect for their natural environment and learn how to make a positive contribution to the community.
Addington Action Community Group
We are part of a Christchurch based committee group made up of residents, workplaces, social groups, church ministers and school principals all working together to help this quake struck community. Working alongside other social groups such as Anglican Care and Age Concern we are helping cater for the very different needs of children/tamariki in this community in an effort to provide some fun learning, during a difficult and uncertain time.
Tiyeseko Orphan and Vulnerable Children School, Zambia
We work with a school in Zambia, which helps children who have been orphaned and suffer from a number of disabilities. We recently provided the children with new school uniforms, which as you can see from the photo, they wear with great pride.
Papakura Early Childhood Education Participation
We have been selected by the Ministry of Education to work with families in the Papakura area whose children are currently not receiving Early Childhood Education. Our role is to increase awareness and to encourage families to participate in an ECE service so that the children can benefit from a strong learning foundation for the future.