A small act of kindness by a Gisborne builder unleashed a community festival at Cobham School this week celebrating new sports equipment, a garden, and easier access to pharmacy services.
“I just can’t believe what’s happened at this school and the way everyone has pulled together for the children,” exclaimed emotional principal Gina Holmes during the fun day.
The Hakinkina, Hauhake, Hauora festival was an idea pulled together by Turanga Health and community stakeholders after a chance act of kindness by a builder earlier in the year got everyone thinking.
Local basketballer and builder Scott Muncaster was working at Cobham School when he noticed students were making air shots with balls because of a lack of hoops. In a spare moment he knocked together a makeshift hoop and backboard never dreaming it would lead to anything more significant.
What happened next was truly remarkable. A basketball-mad father of a staffer, Shane McClutchie, told Basketball New Zealand about the children’s plight. Basketball New Zealand’s Hoops in Schools initiative was a perfect fit and with some added coordination from Turanga Health Cobham School is the first kura in the region to benefit from the national programme.
This week New Zealand basketball players Thomas Abercrombie and Brooke Blair surprised Cobham School children to celebrate the newly installed regulation-sized backboard hoops and give all the tamariki a basketball and some coaching.
“It’s the fastest growing sport in New Zealand,” explained Breakers captain Thomas Abercrombie, who took the kids through entertaining and inclusive on-court drills.
“We want to make sure everyone has a chance to play the game. Hoops are a meeting place for everyone. All you need is a few mates and a ball and then everyone can enjoy the game.”
Students Lata Latu (9) and Nathan Tombleson (12) were excited about the day which featured sports superstars, new equipment, and the promise of a yummy hot stir fry lunch from the mobile Turanga Health kitchen.
Nathan particularly loved the coaching and was keen to practice his “L and then R” hand motion for dunking winners. “I like bouncing the ball and dribbling it too,” says Nathan.
Holding onto her ball tightly, Lata was thrilled it had been signed by Thomas and Brooke. “I’ve learned to shoot and it’s better than when there was a bucket!”
Turanga Health has a strong relationship with decile 1 Cobham School in Elgin. As well as helping deliver Breakfast Club two mornings a week the Maori health provider linked the school with Elgin Pharmacy so whanau could better access education and resources to manage common conditions like headlice and eczema.
Pharmacist Sean Shivnan recently purchased nearby McLeans Pharmacy. “We’re part of the community and have partnered with Turanga Health to provide free treatments for head lice (kutus) and some skin conditions.
“Kody Paulson is the pharmacy manager and Linda Croskery has been a pharmacy technician at McLeans for 38 years. “Both are looking forward to helping whanau from the Elgin community.”
Pharmacist Sean Shivnan recently purchased nearby Elgin Pharmacy. “We’re part of the community and we want to help,” he says.
A Turanga Health’s Workplace Wellness partner, Riverlands, also come on board to support Cobham School this week.
Just before the festival Riverlands staff, some of whom used to go to the school, volunteered their time and resources to build a large vegetable garden.
During the festival Riverland chief executive Carl Hamlin helped children plant the last of the 200 donated seedlings.
“There’s salad greens, tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn,” says Mr Hamlin, who will also donate fruit trees to the enthusiastic school.
“’Cobham Grown’ is what we are aiming for! We’ve been amazed at how green-fingered the students and staff are. We share the same ethos and values as Turanga Health and the school, so we were thrilled to come on board.”
Principal Gina Holmes thanked everyone who attended the day and was particularly grateful to the organisations who are “throwing their weight behind a great bunch of kids and enthusiastic staff”.
“It was a fantastic day and we’ve got so much more planned for the children with the sports gear, garden, and pharmacy support.”
Caption: Nine-year-old Lata Latu was thrilled when professional basketballer Brooke Blair signed her new basketball during the Hakinakina, Hauhake, Hauora festival held at Cobham School this month.
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