Recent Articles in ‘Uncategorized’


SOS room is a real lifesaver

By GERRY BELLETT Each month the SOS room in the basement of Norquay elementary offers a lifeline to as many as 14 impoverished families. The acronym stands for Support Our Students but it’s too close to the international Morse signal for immediate rescue for there to be any doubts what it’s all about. And Margaret […]


Refugees face hurdles in Canada

By GERRY BELLETT Anyone thinking Syrian refugees have arrived in the Promised Land once they touch down on Canadian soil should consider they are really being airlifted into poverty. Like the Hafiz family living in the growing Syrian enclave in Surrey, they might be safe from bombs and bullets but their journey to a normal […]

Old Yale Elementary

Policy failures put schools on front line of child poverty

Old Yale Elementary in Surrey provides a breakfast, snack and lunch program for between 40 and 50 children daily. Doy Valenciano is the breakfast co-ordinator behind the counter serving the children. By DAPHNE BRAMHAM Anyone who questions whether child poverty is real in British Columbia should go back to school. Schools are at the nexus […]


Money is important, but so are volunteers

By GERRY BELLETT It’s 7:30 a.m. — barely light out — and Surrey principal Shauna Ross is talking about the positive effects of feeding breakfast to children who need it. She’s in early and so are the volunteers making breakfast in a small kitchen at Hyland Elementary. It’s not just the food, she says, although […]

West Coast Alternate

Special kids cooking up life skills. Students with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder need groceries to keep Wednesday cooking program.

By DAPHNE BRAMHAM Sam Horn had never chopped broccoli or cut up chicken thighs before. And, from the look on her face, the former vegetarian preferred cutting the broccoli to the chicken. But she stuck it out through the two, big value packs needed to feed her and her 18 schoolmates. Dustin Thorkelsson — West […]

Langley Secondary

Homeless teens often stay hidden

” By GERRY BELLETT Homelessness among teenagers is an invisible epidemic, says Dawne Tomlinson, principal of Langley Secondary. “You will see homeless adults in Langley but you won’t see homeless teenagers because they are invisible. They wear all the right things and stuff because they are so much more vulnerable if they look homeless: vulnerable […]

Maple Ridge

Volunteers and bus tickets needed in Maple Ridge

By GERRY BELLETT Suburban living doesn’t get much better than in Maple Ridge, says Trevor Connor, principal of Maple Ridge Secondary. And on a bright day in the midst of the tidy, well-kept homes that surround his school, it appears self-evident. But — appearances notwithstanding — not everyone here is living the suburban dream. “Because […]

Donation gives east-side Vancouver school new hope

By GERRY BELLETT When the school year began last September, the number of parents volunteering to serve on Cunningham Elementary’s parent advisory council (PAC) would have fit in a broom closet. Then the very idea that the parent body of this East Vancouver school could provide the numbers or the will to organize the school’s […]

Hungry kids and not enough classrooms only part of Surrey’s budget woes

By Daphne Bramham It’s a miracle that anybody wants to be a school trustee in British Columbia. The government has them in strait jackets. It sets their budgets and every year gives them less to work with. They have no way to raise more money aside from begging for donations. They don’t negotiate salaries even […]

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Who will feed Vancouver’s 2,000 hungry school kids?

By Daphne Bramham There is something deeply wrong in British Columbia and with our government that thousands of children are hungry and school districts are forced to beg private donors for food on their behalf. The Vancouver school district feeds breakfast and lunch to 5,000 elementary and secondary school children every day. But it says […]


Arming girls with what they need to stay safe

By DAPHNE BRAMHAM Girls were already piling into the gym at the Spectrum Learning Centre before the call went out: “All women warriors to the gym.” A couple of girls were already taping together a patchwork of ratty mats. Soon, after a brief warm-up, they would start flipping and throwing each other to the ground […]

captain cook

Generous donations support kids in need #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett On Tuesday morning, the doors of Captain James Cook Elementary will be opened early by principal Dan Knibbs who will be there to serve the school’s first breakfast — an inaugural event and the culmination of Knibbs’ desire to at least do this much to alleviate hunger in his school. “I’ve wanted […]

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Sun readers put Surrey family back on its feet after fire #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett On Tuesday, the following email arrived at The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School website from Susan McCuaig, principal of Betty Huff elementary, a school located in Surrey’s troubled north end. “ … We have many vulnerable families in our community and one endured a fire in their apartment Monday and they have no insurance. […]

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Adopt-a-School: Vancouver power couple pitches in to help school #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett Captain James Cook Elementary principal Dan Knibbs was stunned when he heard that his longed-for program to serve breakfast to hungry children will receive $60,000 from Carole Taylor and her husband Art Phillips. “It’s fantastic. It’s such a huge commitment on their part. I just can’t say what it will mean to […]

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Donation turns holiday hardship into joy for Strathcona children #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett and Gillian Shaw Most kids look forward to their Christmas school break. But for some of Vancouver’s most impoverished children, it’s not a time of joy and laughter but a time of anxiety and hunger, as the holidays stretch out with no prospect of a hot lunch at school or a breakfast […]

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Vancouver’s Sidoo family steps in to ensure Selkirk Annex gets its playground #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett St. George’s student Jordan Sidoo sold $4,000 worth of pen sets over the last two weeks so some time in February 73 elementary school children in East Vancouver will get a new playground. Lord Selkirk Annex had applied to The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund for a $7,800 grant to erect used playground […]


Adopt-a-School: When toys are not enough

By Gillian Shaw It was a toy delivery caravan that came up short when we reached a little boy who needed something we couldn’t give him. It was shortly before schools broke for Christmas holidays and we were on a tour of schools with London Drugs, which had donated a truckload of toys for The […]

Lord Kelvin elementary

‘Their stomachs need to be full’ In New Westminster, feeding kids is part of a ‘wraparound responsibility’ says the superintendent of schools #vansunkids

By Shelley Fralic It starts early, at 7 a.m., well before the school bell rings. Car doors slam, and light chatter fills the cold morning air as they line up from the front doors of the school and down along the concourse outside the still-shuttered classrooms. They do this once a month, on a Wednesday, […]

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Adopt-a-School: Canucks icon Trevor Linden scores with inner-city school #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett The largest collection of Canucks jerseys seen so far this fall were one the backs of kids and teachers stuffed in the gym of Surrey’s Mary Jane Shannon elementary in honour of Trevor Linden, who came to the school Thursday to support The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School campaign. Most of the shirts sported […]


Breakfasts in jeopardy without more funding #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett The pots are lined up early — peanut butter, jam down to the dregs, marmalade, cheese whiz, margarine and, lastly, cream cheese — choose any two. There are small cups of milk, a plate of cheddar cheese slices, and some thinly cut apples — toast was coming. All in all, the humblest […]

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Adopt-a-School: Wesbild offers scholarships to Coquitlam alternative high school #vansunkids

By Gerry Bellett For principal Paul McNaughton, the hardest part of saying goodbye to students like 19-year-old Michelle Adams was contemplating how they would fare in the unforgiving world outside his Coquitlam alternative secondary school. Nobody attends CABE if they are knocking it out of the park in life or academics. Alternative school is a […]


Adopt-a-School: Income disparity at the root of Canada’s ills, and problem is growing worse #vansunkids

By Stephen Hume She never wore the fashionable outfits her high school classmates affected and she was never at the local diner where we hung out after class. “Chores,” she said. Then, one day, she just wasn’t there at all. Maybe prom with all the flaunting of finery was just too daunting. For those without, […]


Adopt-a-School: Moms get their hands dirty to help out

By Gerry Bellett Dr. Barbara Fitzgerald has had thousands of conversations with children in the Downtown Eastside during her career as a developmental pediatrician and the context is generally as grim and bleak as poverty itself. But the conversation some weeks ago with a six-year-old who eyed her fearfully in a small office in Seymour […]


Adopt-a-School: Vancouver Rotary Club feeds hungry kids at Norquay elementary

By Gerry Bellett A few years ago there was a feeling within the Vancouver Rotary Club that perhaps it was time to redirect its charitable energies to something other than providing breakfast for hungry children attending east Vancouver’s John Norquay elementary school. “We’d been doing it for a long time and some people felt we […]


Adopt-a-School: CIBC Wood Gundy delivers philanthropy without fanfare for inner-city schools

By Gerry Bellett It almost defies belief that a downtown office of just 55 people has been the prime provider of hot breakfasts and other services for poor and needy children in Vancouver’s east-side elementary schools for the past 17 years. Since 1995, staff in CIBC Wood Gundy’s office in the Bentall Centre have put […]

Photo by Gillian Shaw

Bed-bug bites, hunger: Learning is hard enough without the distractions of poverty

By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun Little kids shouldn’t come to school pocked with bed-bug bites. They shouldn’t turn up yawning after spending another sleepless night because their bed was the floor or was shared with siblings. They shouldn’t think that a hotel is where you live if you can’t afford a home. They shouldn’t come […]


Teacher’s simple plea turned into a campaign so successful that it’s not going to stop here

By Gerry Bellett There are times when a small cry for help is the pebble that starts an avalanche. On this eve of Christmas, who would have thought that in September when inner-city teacher Carrie Gelson pleaded for social justice on behalf of her students it would have resulted in the Adopt-a-School campaign and such […]


Group of professional mothers reach out; Friendship circle works with inner-city teachers to identify those in need of help

By Gerry Bellett A month ago Dr. Joanne Roussy of the University of B.C.’s medical school would not have known how to negotiate the mean streets of the Downtown Eastside, but here on a wet Tuesday morning she was getting the hang of it. Navigating was Julia Morrison, a Scottish nurse, who apologized for having […]

Byrne Creek Secondary School teacher Dave Rawnsley with students, from left: Mahjobeh Badakhsh, Erika Yau-Xu, Nyalem Wan (red), Shathi Kazi and Anush Muhammadazam in Burnaby, BC., December 8, 2011. Fifteen percent of the students come from refugee families. (Nick Procaylo/PNG)

The United Nations of Burnaby; Byrne Creek secondary has students from 70 different countries

Byrne Creek secondary could be the poster child for the growing ethnic diversity of the Lower Mainland. “The families in our community come from over 70 different countries,” says the school’s principal, Dave Rawnsley. “We’ve got large numbers of students from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea, you name it. A lot of families have come […]

JackFM receptionist Denise Frandsen (left) and office coordinator Kate Channell Wednesday, December 14, 2011 with some of the items donated by radio station employees that will be given to students at Lord Selkirk Annex school. (Photo by Jason Payne/ PNG)

‘We’re walking on air,’ school says of Rogers Radio’s gift

Lord Selkirk annex, just off Knight and 29th, is a small inner-city elementary school whose requests for assistance from The Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School campaign were among the most modest received. Two winter jackets, 15 pairs of winter gloves, 10 toques, two pairs of runners and two pairs of winter boots (sizes provided) were top of […]


From bombs to books; Indomitable spirit of ESL students inspired principal to write book

By Janet Steffenhagen From the outside, Edmonds community school looks like an ordinary neighbourhood school. But inside, it is a microcosm. Four out of five students were born outside Canada, more than half are learning English as a second language (ESL) and a third are refugees from countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo, Iraq and […]