For close to 25 years Variety New Zealand has worked to meet the needs of Kiwi kids, their communities, individual supporters and the nation.
Growing up in poverty is becoming a significant issue for more than 285,000 New Zealand children. Variety’s response was to launch the Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme to provide ongoing assistance to children living in poverty in our own backyard.
When an individual, family or organisation sponsors a child through Variety, the regular donation helps to provide a disadvantaged child with the basics their family can’t afford. This includes, but is not limited to: bedding, clothing, books, doctor’s visits, prescriptions, school stationery and extra-curricular activities.
Sponsored Kiwi kids can now also take part in extracurricular activities like dancing, music lessons and sport, something that was not in the family budget before. Opportunities like these make children feel included and encourages them to develop goals and dreams.
One of the 580 children sponsored in 2013, 11 year Chirac, has experienced things that no child of his age should suffer. At the start of the year he refused to go to school, and eventually re-joined his class only after a week’s one-to-one tuition with the school principal.
His life turned around when he joined the Variety Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme which funded new rugby boots, a mouth-guard and other sports gear. He has become a school league phenomenon, scoring an extraordinary 16 tries in one game to take his team to third place in Auckland.
Poverty is present in all communities and can plight a child’s life. Chirac is well on his way to a brighter future thanks to his sponsor and Variety!
Variety Tent 52 has for the last 4 years held “Variety’s Child of the Year” this has become a very prestigious event. Inspirational children who have faced major illnesses with courage or have selflessly devoted time to caring for others are recognised.
Leon Fromager (16) was the winner in the older age group, despite having autism and the difficult communication and social problems it can bring, he selflessly does all he can to help his disabled mother and his grandfather. With the prize vouchers he won, he bought his mother a laptop and vacuum cleaner, he really is a very special young man. With him winning the award the rewards were two-fold, we all became more aware of the difficulties that autism sufferers have to deal with on a day-to-day basis and also to see Leon grow in confidence and open up more.
Rosie Nicholls another winner who was 12 was recognised for the mature way in which she deals with diabetes. Rosie has had this illness since she was a baby and has to inject herself up to 5 times a day. As well as understanding her needs she is a very compassionate young lady, she assists other smaller children with the same illness to help them understand and be able to cope with the daily routines. Rosie and her parents will be going to Florida with the prize money, the family haven’t been able to afford holidays in the past so this is going to be very special. Rosie has also turned out to be a real ambassador for Variety, she has set up the “Charity Angels” through school and is fundraising for Variety whenever she can. She will be involved with all the promotions and press coverage for this year’s truly wonderful event.
All the children that enter this event are very special, all with inspirational stories we are humbled at Tent 52 to be able to recognise them.
The heartfelt letters received from parents regarding the way equipment granted by Variety of Ireland has changed the life of their child tells the story of the invaluable solutions Variety – the Children’s Charity provides every day.
“Thank you Variety so much for Casey’s wheelchair, life is so much easier now for all of us”. Casey’s mother, Tracey.
“The bench has really helped him at home to do day to day activities, such as dressing but also is a great help for positioning for his physio exercises which we do every day. Matthew was born premature, at 24 weeks, weighing on 620g but he is now a happy, mobile little boy. We are truly grateful for the help you have given us.” Matthew’s parents, Rachael and Mark
“Dafne, due to the long term side effects of head radiations that she received for treating a brain cancer, lost her independence all of a sudden. At Christmas a wonderful trike arrived and it was of her favourite colour and with beautiful streamers. Dafne calls it HER BIKE and she loves it!!! She loves that we can go on family walks and she decides where to go, she absolutely doesn’t want to be helped when she is on her bike. We are delighted that she can move her legs in a fun and enjoyable way. It is so good for her muscles and her blood circulation. All our thanks go to Variety.” Dafne’s parents, Magda and Marco
Through the support of our donors and supporters, Variety of Ireland is humbled to be helping children and families achieve a better future.
To mark the beginning of celebrations to mark its 25th anniversary of the Freedom Wheelchair Programme, as well as International Wheelchair Day, five wheelchairs were presented to the Variety Children’s Hospital at King’s College London.
We received an application for the manual junior wheelchairs from the nursing staff. The Cheyne Wing of the hospital houses five specialist children’s wards, each of which has been granted its own dedicated wheelchair. Below are the words of the Ward Manager about the need for the wheelchairs and why Variety had to help:
“We are lacking wheelchairs in our unit and this is a big setback in the road to recovery for our children. They are unable to get out of bed, therefore staying in bed for much of the time which then leads to a prolonged stay in hospital. Some of the children need a wheelchair to transport them to the x-ray, scan or eye departments, and to get them to the hospital school. We are unable to do it in a timely manner due to lack of wheelchairs available and they are missing their slots due to delay in getting to other departments. Parents become increasingly upset when their children’s appointments are missed. Nurses are extremely frustrated due to time wasted in looking for, or in locating, a wheelchair. Hence, this is my reason for requesting each ward a wheelchair so that we can deliver care effectively and efficiently.”
The Cheyne Wing is part of the Variety Children’s Hospital. It treats and cares for more than 40,000 sick children each year. Featuring a dedicated critical care centre, a day care unit, the world’s largest children’s liver unit, and allowing parents to stay overnight with their children in specially-prepared beds on the wards, the hospital’s state of the art facilities are saving and changing lives. This relatively small donation, in terms of cost, will have a significant impact on the hospital and continues a long-standing relationship of support between Variety and King’s College Hospital London.
Like most Kiwi kids, Honie (8) and Lockyer (6) love spending time with their “Nannie”, but while many of their peers go home to their parents at the end of the day, these two do not. Elizabeth stepped in to help when the children’s parents separated, taking full custody while juggling her own health woes. The skin and ovarian cancer survivor lives with rheumatoid arthritis. But creating a secure home life for the children is her priority.
Elizabeth is committed to giving the children the most supportive environment she can, but financial strain has meant that providing the basics for her grandchildren is not always possible. Paying for her grandchildren’s food, clothing and school essentials was putting Elizabeth under massive pressure, so she was relieved to learn that Variety New Zealand’s Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme could help.
Thanks to the generosity of anonymous Kiwis, children like Honie and Lockyer are sponsored and receive funding for basic items through a sponsor’s regular monthly donation. So far Liz has been able to buy the children shoes, warm clothes for winter and cosy bedding to set them up in their new home.
Variety New Zealand’s Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme was launched in 2013 and to date has connected sponsors with close to 1,400 Kiwi kids living in deprivation to meet their needs.
Sponsors pay a minimum of $35 a month to fund essentials the child would otherwise go without, be it basic clothing, shoes, stationery for school, bedding or medicine. The Variety Kiwi Kid Sponsorship programme is tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual child. A sponsored child’s caregiver requests funds for items and Variety makes all payments directly to the supplier. This ensures the money given is solely for the needs of the child and cannot used for other family bills. Variety works alongside schools, social agencies and healthcare professionals who refer children around the country who most urgently need help.
Elizabeth had already raised her own two sons by the age of 27 and the prospect of parenting all over again came as a shock to her. “Parenting is hard at this age. It is tiring but I do my best to provide the children with everything they need, physically and emotionally. The children have been through a lot with the relationship breakdown of their parents. Honie has selective mutism, so she only speaks when she feels comfortable, and Lockyer has learning and speech difficulties.”