Mangakino School is a safe and welcoming space for its 50 or so primary-aged students but after school there is little to do other than hang around the local skate park.
That’s why Mangakino Central Charitable Trust’s General Manager, Marlene Johnson, decided to launch an after-school programme earlier this year.
“It’s just gone from strength to strength,” she says. “We started off with about 12 kids and we’re getting between 18 and 29 kids now. We’re just doing two days a week at this stage but our goal is to increase it to five days a week.”
The trust’s community hub is right next door to the school and provides afternoon tea and several hours of fun activities to keep everyone entertained such as baking, arts and crafts, games and outdoor activities. Children from nearby Whakamārama School are now attending too.
“They’re learning to communicate in a different way with each other and with other kids that they don’t normally see every day,” Marlene explains. “They’re learning life skills that will help them engage with people better. They’ve got a safe place to come to. They can talk to their leaders about anything and everything. Eventually, as they grow older, they’ll be good community citizens.
“Not only are we helping the kids, but we’re also benefiting their whanau as well. So that’s a really important thing for us too – to be out there in the community, for the benefit of the community.”
Each child’s family pays a koha of $2 per session and Mangakino Central Charitable Trust seeks funding from a variety of organisations to help cover operating expenses including the wages of two young adults who run the programme.
BayTrust has recently granted $10,000 which will fund the programme for several months. “We are totally appreciative of any funding that we get. Trusts like ours can’t survive without the injection of funding and BayTrust has been very supportive.”
Mangakino Central Charitable Trust started its journey in 2000 as SCAF (Stronger Community Action Foundation) and went through a metamorphosis into SLAM (Sports & Leisure Association Mangakino), then in 2014 emerged as Mangakino Central Charitable Trust (MCCT). It now runs 14 community programmes across seven different site in the Mangakino/Whakamaru rohe.
“When I came on board in 2021 we had about seven community projects. We run the disc golf course, the gym, and the community motocross park. We also run the Art And Soul Community Art Gallery. I used to work for many years for the Graeme Dingle Foundation which is a life skills and values programme for youth. So when I came on board as the trust’s manager, I could see a few things that the community was lacking such as the after school care.
“I also wanted to get the trust to be more self-sufficient so we started up in an op shop. BayTrust actually gave us some funding last year for that as well and it was much appreciated. The idea around the shop is that the money then goes back out into the community through a discretionary funds for the kids. We give out funding to buy school uniforms, buy stationery… anything to do with education, cultural needs or sporting needs. So far, we’ve given out just under $4000 and we want to be able to do more.”
For now, the after school programme runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is facilitated by Youthtown Trust. “Sarah works for Youthtown based in Taupo but she lives in Mangakino so it’s a win-win situation. And now our attendance has gotten higher, we’ve employed Te Mana who is a really good role model for our young boys.”
Marlene hopes to one day raise enough funds to buy a mini van to pick up and drop kids home afterwards. At present, the programme’s finish time has been brought forward to 5:30pm (instead of 6pm) because it’s too dark and cold for the kids to walk home.
“At this stage we’re catering for five to 12 year-olds but it would be cool to be able to start up something for our 13 to 18 year-old rangatahi too because there’s not a lot around here for that age group to do.
“The kids love our programme and we’ve had lots of positive feedback from parents. It helps them out too because a lot of parents are working or have other kids to look after. So it’s become very popular, very quickly.”