16 Dec Kristin School Community Project
Every year at Kristin School, the Year 10 students are given the opportunity to run their very own Community Project. This entails choosing a cause to support through service and action over the course of the year, gaining an array of important life skills as we undergo the learning process. First we must plan, identifying a goal and the importance of our issue. We must also investigate, recognising the causes of our chosen issue and an effective method to help it. Following this, we take action by altruistically serving our issue before reflecting on how well we achieved our goal and what we learnt over the course of the learning process. It is a project built on the core qualities of Kristin School – vision, love, and integrity.
We chose to support the brave children in our community who suffer from renal problems and must undergo the process of dialysis, the purification of blood when the kidneys don’t work properly. Kidney problems the children may suffer from include Polycystic Kidney Disease, Nephrotic Syndrome, Glomerulonephritis, and other forms of Chronic Kidney Disease. Because of their failing kidneys, the children may spend periods of time in hospital receiving hemodialysis or undergo peritoneal dialysis at home, whilst enduring long waiting lists to receive a kidney transplant to survive. One of our group members received blood tests at the beginning of the year, testing for creatinine. This lead to researching about creatinine (a compound in the blood excreted by the kidneys), and a fascination in the kidneys. Researching further, she discovered the seriousness of renal problems and how children suffer from them globally. She realised there was little awareness of kidney problems throughout New Zealand, resulting in limited help given to support their condition. She passed this information on to our other two group members – and it was then that they decided it was time someone helped New Zealand’s brave Kidney Kids through the tough times they go through.
We decided to create 20 Kidney Care Packages for children on dialysis in our community. We researched into items that may be beneficial for the children whilst on dialysis – blankets and socks for warmth and comfort, notebooks and drawing pads for entertainment, and sweets like jelly snakes as a cheerful treat (low in phosphate, potassium, and sodium so that they are kidney-safe). Having identified beneficial goodies for our Kidney Kids, it was time to get stuck into it! We ran three fundraisers before every Middle School Production of Aladdin Junior, which lead us to raise nearly $700, $400 of which was profit. Meanwhile, we received an unbelievably generous stationery donation from OfficeMax – a vast array of colouring pencils and pens, notebooks, and drawing pads. This meant that we not only had more than enough funds to purchase our goodies for our care packages – large fleece blankets, fluffy socks, jelly snake sweets, and funky pillow cases which we transformed into handmade drawstring bags to keep all of the goodies inside – but also an additional $200 to donate to the wonderful ‘Kidney Kids’ which would be put towards worthy kidney-related causes like the ‘Kidney Kids’ camps that are run every year for New Zealand’s Kidney Kids. Having gathered the goodies required for our Kidney Care Packages, we met together throughout the holidays to assemble them: tying ribbons around the stationery packs, socks, and blankets, writing a message to include in each of the care packages, finishing making our drawstring bags, and finally, putting all of the goodies inside of the finished bags. The Kidney Care Packages were assembled and ready to be handed over to our Kidney Kids!
On the 25th of October, we travelled to Starship Hospital to hand our care packages over to the team. We had arranged to meet with the lovely Rachel Barrett, Family & Community Educator and National Manager of Support Services for ‘Kidney Kids’. We were to give her our care packages to be distributed by ‘Kidney Kids’ to children on dialysis on visits to the hospital, or to children on dialysis at home. Georgie, one of the kind Renal Nurse Specialists at Starship Hospital, offered that we give our first Kidney Care Package to a patient on dialysis there currently. The patient was a beautiful young girl who was so happy to receive her package, and agreed with Georgie that the care package would add a silver lining to her cloud.
Our next steps are to continue educating people about the seriousness of kidney problems and to continue making a difference in the lives of our Kidney Kids. ‘Kidney Kids’ run a brilliant idea called ‘Kan Tabs’ where people hand in can tabs from cans like Sprite or Coke, or aluminium wine cap bottles. They go towards recycling aluminium and help raise funds for New Zealand’s Kidney Kids, so we are looking towards placing ‘Kan Tab’ collection buckets around school. Because meeting that brave young girl on dialysis, New Zealand’s future, was the moment we truly realised as a group how much every person deserves a chance at life – and how rewarding our Community Project has been.
Ready to donate our Kidney Care Packages!
With Georgie, the Renal Nurse Specialist at Starship, and Rachel Barrett, Family & Community Educator & National Manager of Support Services for ‘Kidney Kids’
Arrived at Starship Hospital, ready to donate!
Assembling our Kidney Care Package