SHANIA KIDS CAN
When we think of iconic Canadian superstars, Shania Twain is likely one of the first people to come to mind. For decades the country pop singer and song writer has taken the world by storm, and in the process, become one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. While we celebrate Twain and her success as a symbol of national pride, life for this world-renowned celebrity has not always been so glamourous.
Like many children in Canada and around the world, the early years of Twain’s life were shrouded in poverty and isolation. Often lacking access to proper nutrition, clean clothing and parental support, Twain faced many challenges growing up in a disadvantaged family.
“As a child, I often went to school without having had breakfast, without bringing a lunch, and with no money to take part in pizza days. I missed many field trips because I wasn’t able to pay for them or get the authorization signature from my parents because they were not available or unable to provide the necessary permission.
Reflecting back, I realize now that my disadvantages created a lack of self-confidence and insecurity. This caused me to withdraw and be less social than I would have liked to be. In addition to feeling inferior, hunger too often caused a lack of energy, enthusiasm and motivation to interact with others and focus on my schoolwork” shares Twain in a heartfelt personal note.
Twain goes on to reveal other difficulties she experienced as a youth. She describes being forced to stay home at times to avoid the discomfort of trying to focus on school work on an empty stomach and missing out on experiences as she didn’t have the proper clothing or equipment to participate. However beyond the obvious challenges, Twain’s words tell a powerful story of a child in emotional crisis. Struggling with shame, insecurity and guilt, Twain exposes the unseen hardships that so many underprivileged children are forced to endure.
Unwilling to stand by and watch as other children suffer in silence, Twain created her own non-profit organization to address the needs of disadvantaged primary school children that are typically overlooked by social assistance programs. While these children may not be abused or neglected, they nevertheless have problems in their personal life that interfere with their social and educational experience. “I promised myself early on in my own childhood that someday I would help kids just like myself, cope with their disadvantages and prosper in spite of those challenges. Shania Kids Can Charity Foundation (SKC) is fulfilling that promise.”
Realizing this goal, SKC strives to even the playing field for underprivileged kids by applying proven initiatives where they can make the most difference — at school. Working with individual school boards, SKC creates a safe and discrete space onsite where kids can go to receive the essentials they need to succeed academically and in life. Lovingly referred to as
“SKC Clubhouses,” these designated areas are managed by professional staff who are dedicated to providing educational, nutritional, therapeutic and extra-curricular support. Each day, these kids are able to go to the clubhouse for fresh and nutritious food, help with their homework and any social/psychological support that may be needed. They can also receive field trip expenses, basic hygiene tools, school supplies and clothing items in confidence. Further help can be found at SKC’s after school program which includes other key support elements such as musical, writing and artistic development, practical life skills, vocational training and assistance from a therapist.
SKC is making a huge difference in many children’s lives. Children like Makayla, whose mom works two jobs to support her family. Makayla frequently utilizes the food in SKC and will also use the space to nap sometimes, as she has a tough time sleeping at home. She is an advocate to use SKC for academic work as well as a quiet space when feeling overwhelmed with work/life.
“We have witnessed first-hand an overall improvement in the general health and well-being of the children in the SKC program. These kids are achieving higher academic marks, improved social behavior and a better attitude towards school, a decrease in overall stress and in many cased elimination of hunger” said Twain. The results of the program are all measured through software designed for Shania Kids Can which conclusively indicate tremendous improvement overall in the areas of mental health, social behavior and physical health improvements.
By providing this basic support in the daily lives of primary school age children, not only do you see an immediate change in the education, social life, and self-esteem of students, the long-term implications are also impressive. “By supporting these children at the primary age by teaching them to become responsible, confident, proactive members of their school community, they will have a much better chance at personal success in the future. These children will grow to be adults who are in a better place and position to contribute positively to society” states Twain.
SKC has developed a strong partnership with the Dilawri Foundation over the past several years, which has allowed them to expand activities across Canada with programs running in Ontario, BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan. You can help SKC expand their program throughout North America by making a donation online or sponsoring a student in the SKC program.
“Our students that participate in the SKC program benefit greatly from the support that they receive on a daily basis. The program is an essential part of their school day, in fact, a lifeline for many of our students.” Principal, Schumacher Public School, Timmins, ON
“Students in SKC are finding new passions, developing new goals and envisioning brighter futures thanks to the help and caring support of SKC”, Program Leader, Las Vegas, Nevada.
For more information visit shaniakidscan.com.