Free holiday programmes benefit thousands

Wednesday 3 October 2012, 2:07PM
By Paula Bennett

Holiday programmes introduced by the National Government have been enjoyed by more than 65,000 children from high need communities.

Breakaway programmes for 11 to 17-year-olds are targeted to young people who wouldn’t normally have access to school holiday programmes.

“Young people from stressed families in high-deprivation areas often have little to do in the holidays. We wanted to provide a fun, structured and safe environment for young people to enjoy, which won’t cost their parents a cent.”

“I’ve seen children on Breakaway just loving the opportunity to mix with other kids, do exciting activities - sometimes with famous sportspeople - and having fun like children should in the holidays,” says Mrs Bennett.

Since being introduced in late 2009 65,218 children have officially attended Breakaway programmes.

“Unofficially, we know the numbers are much higher because children often bring their younger siblings along when they are caring for them.”

Breakaway programmes have been delivered by community organisations in more than 40 areas including the Far North, South and West Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Masterton, Taupō, Bay of Plenty, Napier, Rotorua, Gisborne, Whakatane, Lower Hutt, Kawerau and Horowhenua.

The range of activities on offer includes kayaking, abseiling, art, dance, swimming, kapa haka, sports, martial arts, music and BMX riding.

“Community providers do an outstanding job delivering these programmes to children who love it so much they come back every day, usually with a few extras tagging along because word’s gotten around,” says Mrs Bennett.

The National Government has funded more than $7 million for Breakaway programmes to date.