Community Papers

Kiwanis Club fundraiser highlight issue of family poverty

A high number of children in Langley City are vulnerable to family poverty, an issue the Kiwanis Club of Langley is highlighting through a fundraiser next week. - Contributed photo
A high number of children in Langley City are vulnerable to family poverty, an issue the Kiwanis Club of Langley is highlighting through a fundraiser next week.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Children in Langley are showing up to school malnourished and hungry and the problem is much larger than many can fathom.

Frontline workers are seeing it every day, and it has prompted the Kiwanis Club of Langley to take action.

The service club is putting on a fundraising dinner April 8 with an unusual twist, which will put people in the shoes of Langley’s most vulnerable population.

Upon arrival at the fundraiser, people will draw a ticket to indicate whether they will dine in Canada or in a developing country. Four people will sit down to an elegant dinner, and the rest will be served a bowl of rice.

Kiwanis Club of Langley president Dawn Adamson, who is a preschool teacher at Douglas Park Community School, will present an  overview on global poverty, and guest speaker Bill Dartnell from  Langley Community Services Society will address poverty within the Langley community.

All proceeds from the $20 tickets will go to buy food  gift cards for Langley’s poorest families. Many of them are new immigrants and refugees.

While it is important to help out globally, it is also important to look after our own community, Adamson stresses.

“We have too many families living in poverty. School teachers, preschool teachers and child care providers see the poverty every day. We see the one piece of bread lunches, the highly processed food in lunches due to affordability. Fresh food is too expensive,” she said.

“We see the huge number of children attending the free breakfast programs. We see the rotting and missing teeth due to poor nutrition and no dental coverage.

“We also see the broken spirits...the effects of poverty in cognitive and physical development within our classrooms.”

Adamson’s comments come on the heels of shocking data about the number of vulnerable and poor children in Langley.

The 2013 Early Development Indicators (EDI) data was released a few weeks ago, finding that the amount of vulnerable children in Langley was considerably higher than the B.C. average.

The Early Learning Committee of Langley presented the findings to the Board of Education at its last meeting. The information about Langley children is gathered by Kindergarten teachers who volunteer to answer around 100 questions about their students cognitive, social, physical and behaviour.

There is also data collected about poverty rates through Census data. In the northern part of Langley City, 42.7 per cent of parents with children are vulnerable to poverty.

In Aldergrove, the numbers are 48 per cent, nearly half. The rates of vulnerable students in B.C. is 33 per cent.

“The provincial government does not have a poverty plan in place,” said Karen Abrahamson, a Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) community trainer.

For many years, B.C. has had the worst child poverty rates in Canada.

“Until the government makes an honest commitment to eradicate poverty, communities need to come together and help,” said Adamson. “The bottom line is that we have children living in poverty and they go hungry.”

The Kiwanis club is hoping this fundraiser will encourage people to donate to the Langley Food Bank and Langley Community Services each month.

The Poverty Awareness fundraiser is April 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at  Douglas Park Community School gym, 5409 206 St.

Contact Dawn Adamson for tickets at 604 530-3731 or by e-mail at dawada01@telus.net.

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