It was an annual ritual. Straight after our summer holiday at the beach, Mum would take my sisters and me out to get fitted for new school shoes. Mum saved for months for that shopping expedition, and the shoes had to last all year. So, given their life expectancy, we were only allowed utilitarian leather, laced, black numbers – and did we whine! Not for us the coveted Mary-Janes with little hearts fashioned on the toes. Or the rugged Adventurers that left tiger paw imprints when you walked in the dust.
Even though our shoes were not the picture of sartorial elegance, Mum was determined that her daughters had new ones fitted each year, because she grew up wearing hand me downs that were either too small or too large, and she still felt the shame.
Having new shoes and fresh supplies for school is vitally important to a child’s dignity and self-esteem. That’s why I’m a strong supporter of the Communities@Work Back-To-School program. The program helps families doing it tough with school uniforms, stationery, drink bottles, lunch boxes, backpacks and shoes. This year, I donated four packs. And thanks to the tireless generosity of Canberrans, Communities@Work helped hundreds of families in the Canberra region with 160 Back-To-School packs.
Thank you to the volunteers and donors who make this program possible. It makes a difference to the lives of so many young Canberrans.
Now that we are well and truly back at school, I would like to wish Canberra parents, students, teachers and staff all the best for 2016.
For the new starters at the primary, secondary or college level, enjoy this phase of your education journey.
And remember that the 40 speed zones are now back in force, so please slow down around schools.