Our hero Julie Chapman, founder and CEO of KidsCan
For someone who is doing extraordinary things, Julie Chapman says she leads a relatively ordinary life with her partner Cain, her stepdaughter Elise and their 3 dogs and 5 cats. Julie is the founder and CEO of KidsCan who has brought years of experience working in the not-for-profit sector to the table when she started KidsCan from her Greenhithe garage in 2005.
Julie says her motivation was twofold; she saw a need to help children who were going without the basics and she wanted to find a tangible way for people’s time and money to really make a difference to vulnerable kids at a grassroots level.
According to her organisation, the number of kids in need is staggering with one in four New Zealand children currently living in poverty. Julie first became aware of children going without when she was still a schoolchild herself and then later through the New Zealand media. She acknowledges that while it’s tempting for some to blame the parents and families of these vulnerable children, KidsCan advocates a ‘no judgements, no blame policy’ because the bottom line is that regardless of what the parents are doing or not doing, these children need help.
KidsCan have reached 350 schools so far and are proud of the difference they’ve made in the last 8 years by providing resources to many hungry kids who also often didn’t even own a pair of shoes. They’re also proud of the fact that they’ve found a sustainable way of meeting the needs of these children by sticking to their knitting and remaining child focussed about alleviating the effects of poverty.
And it doesn’t stop there, next steps for the not-for-profit are to figure out ways to work with schools to promote more self-sufficiency for the kids that are going without because according to Julie, along with financial poverty there’s often a generational poverty in terms of skills lost. To meet those needs they’ll be gearing up to offer even more resources in the future by teaching kids cooking and gardening skills, business skills, getting them involved in social enterprise and teaching them about empathy.