Sporting shoes for kids

Bronnie McKenna (left) with Frontrunner Ashburton co-owner Donna Mealings, Karen Kilgour and Veehof dairy services co-owner Sandy Hoekstra.

Not owning appropriate sport shoes can hold back children from playing sport and being involved in the community.

But thanks to an initiative by a local woman over 300 children have been fitted with sneakers over the past year.

Bronnie McKenna started the JACK – sneakers for kids project, after witnessing a child struggling at a school camp.

“I went on a school camp and there was a boy called Jack who only had a pair of school shoes for the entire camp, and by the time we came down from the mountain the top of his shoe had come away from the bottom.”

This experience prompted her to advertise on Facebook among her friends to see if anyone wanted to donate sneakers.

“Then it was shared on a community page and it just went boom!” she said

“It is not necessarily just for low income families, it’s for large families, for families where it’s not in their culture to recognise there is that particular need, there’s so many different reasons why these kids need these shoes.”

The children who need sneakers are identified by the school, school uniform shoes already have programmes in place for children who need them.

“Kids need sport shoes to take part in school camps, cross country, weekend sports, and athletic days.”

Veehof Dairy Services come on board, donating $3000 raised through product sales.

Veehof co-owner Sandy Hoekstra said no child should go to school without decent footwear, “without decent footwear it’s hard for them to take part in normal things that kids take part in and be at the same level as other kids.”

Karen Kilgour, who runs the Grandparents raising Grandchildren group, said Bronnie offered shoes for the children in her group.

“These are kids that have come from traumatic backgrounds, who can’t live with their parents and there is not a lot of funding for grandparents raising kids, so this is wonderful, kids were happy, we were happy.”

Frontrunner Ashburton co-owner Donna Mealings donated sneakers and also offered a discount for shoes purchased.

“No child should be disadvantaged when is comes to good footwear, and this is a good opportunity to help,” she said.

The ladies agree it was important to support the local community and the wider region.

“There have been kids from Methven, Rakaia, Fairton, Chertsey, Hinds and Ashburton so it is the entire Mid Canterbury district,” Bronnie said.

Bronnie gets a lot of satisfaction fitting the children with their new sport shoes.

“When you go to schools and fit their shoes, bloody hell are they appreciative, they are just bouncing down the hallway… it’s a bit of a warm fuzz,” she said.

-Daniel Tobin