By Perry Lefko
Shania Twain is back in the spotlight again, after dazzling as the halftime act at the 2017 Grey Cup and about to be featured in a new singing reality series called “The Launch,” but for four years she has been important to the faculty and some of the students at Sir Winston Churchill Public School in Brampton.
Sir Winston Churchill is one of seven elementary schools in North America that are receiving support from the singer’s non-profit charity “Shania Kids Can” (SKC). It was established in 2010 to relieve the economic, social and personal sufferings of children that she experienced as a child. The elementary schools that are chosen to be part of the program receive funding to pay for food, clothing and resources for underprivileged and disadvantaged children.
The charity works with the school board, the principal and the school to identify 25 students for the program annually, which helps to eliminate some of the negative consequences for children by providing nurturing care in a classroom designated as the “Shania Kids Can Clubhouse.”
In September 2014, in conjunction with the Dilawri Foundation and the Peel District School Board, the clubhouse launched at Sir Winston Churchill.
Program leader Michelle Smith told Peel Region Review there are many components to the clubhouse.
“Some of the things we’re able to offer the students is basic necessities to support children who need clothing or food, but the other important part is we have a space for kids who are tired, who are hungry, who need a place to be and feel connected in some sort in a space,” Smith said. “Seeing the kids who have gone from coming to school hungry to now coming to school and having some food makes a significant difference.
“It definitely has made a significant change in their lives. The program offers opportunities to be able to give students things they may not be getting at home.”
School principal Heather Little says the SKC program is helping more than just the students who have been selected to participate.
“There is a ripple effect to the entire school,” Little said. “There are times when the rest of the school benefits from some of the funds that are raised in the Shania Kids Club. We had a (recent) field trip, and Michelle was able to take her students, but Shania’s money went towards paying part of the transportation costs, so it was able to bring down the costs down for all of the kids in the school. There’s a lot of ways that, monetarily, the school benefits, but it also goes to those students (in the program) being fed and clothed, which makes for a better climate for the school in general.”
Photo: Shania Twain poses with students at Sir Winston Churchill Public School’s Shania Kids Can Clubhouse at its launch in 2014.