Grants offered to quake-affected children

TINA LAW
Last updated 10:30 13/02/2013

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Canterbury children struggling with earthquake-related issues can now access $9.3 million worth of grants.

New Zealand Red Cross has launched a new grant, of up to $240 per pupil, to help primary and secondary school children deal with anxiety, stress and behavioural problems caused by the quake.

The money, open to 71,000 children in Selwyn, Waimakariri and Christchurch, will also be used to help children access activities and resources, which have been limited by earthquake-related financial hardship.

Principals and teachers have noticed an increase in anxiety in children since the quakes, including behavioural problems in new entrants.

Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Commission chairman Sir John Hansen said the Red Cross wanted to make a positive difference to the lives of these children.

''We want to foster resilience, both for their own sakes and for the future of Christchurch.''

The money will be distributed through schools and can only be used to provide resources and assistance directly to pupils. It can not be used for operational or capital costs such as teacher salaries, school fees or school equipment.

The grant will help children access counselling, school camps, field trips, group activities, uniforms, stationery and life skills programmes.

A tiered funding system will be used to target children who are less likely to have resources available to them.

Pupils at decile one, two and three schools will be eligible for up to $240 per pupil. Pupils at decile four, five, six and seven schools can access up to $120 per pupil and pupils at eight, nine and 10 schools can get up to $60.

Canterbury Secondary Principals' Association chairman Neil Wilkinson said the grant says to the young people of Christchurch that their needs have not been forgotten.

He just hoped they took advantage of the opportunity.

''Schools are delighted with this grant - it's fantastic.''

The Red Cross is using money from its earthquake appeal fund. Some $82m from the fund has already been distributed in grants to 95,708 people. There is still $14m available for future projects.

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