Taking good care of Kereru Kids

Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Kereru Kids

HOLIDAY FUN: Barbara John runs school holiday programme Kereru Kids at Woodlands Park Primary School

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Barbara John, 38, lives in Te Atatu South with her husband AJ, son Romias, 9, her in-laws Kimi and Nio and a house full of pets. She talks to reporter Ciara Pratt about owning the children's school holiday programme, Kereru Kids.

How did you come to own a school holiday programme for children?

I fell into it. I had 16 years corporate experience as a financial adviser in the motor industry and then I moved up north to be a stay-at-home mum for three years.

When we came back down to Auckland, I had the option to head back to a good corporate job. But then Woodlands Park Primary's after-school programme became available and after much thought, I decided to take the plunge. The children at the after-school programme asked me if I'd open a holiday programme and after researching we opened one up.

Kereru Kids was named by the children in the programme and it has been running four years now.

What has owning your own business taught you?

It's hard work because both my husband and I have our corporate jobs as well. I work as an office manager at Ray White but my employer is very supportive of my business.

In terms of owning a holiday programme, all of the children are unique individuals and have taught me a lot.

They have really grounded me and reminded me to live in the moment.

What can a holiday programme provide for children?

The kids have said to me that coming to the holiday programme means they can come to a large space where they get to meet new friends instead of staying at home and watching television all day.

We have worked hard to make it feel like a community hangout for the children and we want it to feel like a home.

We are an in-centre programme which means we don't leave the school. The children expressed the fact they wanted to have some freedom and not be in a structured programme every day.

By staying at the school we can give them more options and provide a safe environment.

What response have you received from the parents?

I form really good relationships with the parents and they do say they love dropping off their children to people they know and that they enjoy coming here.

The kids are our biggest critics so we encourage them to tell us what they like and don't like. Twice a year we hold a committee meeting with them so they can share their thoughts.

We also have a Facebook page where we post photos of activities throughout the day so parents can see what their children get up to during the day.

Are more children attending school holiday programmes?

Everyday we have a different number of children attending but we have noticed more parents are going back to work.

Sending your child to a holiday programme is really expensive - but the reality is many families have two parents who have to work.

Our big dream would be to take this idea to low decile areas.

Everyone should have access to a holiday programme and it would be amazing if they could be free.

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