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October 2013

Poutama Mission Possible

Footsteps holds the first vulnerable children's conference

Gender and play

How does gender affect your child's learning?

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o our Welcome t of ition latest ed Poutama

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Kevin says.... They tell you the sky’s the limit, but why are there footsteps on the moon? At our recent Mission Possible conference held at Lake Karapiro, we entered our own journey of self-discovery. It was a time for the Footsteps whānau to realise not only how far we had come, but also how much further we can still go. We had such a high calibre of speakers and guests, which showed us that others were now taking us seriously for the work we do with the wonderful tamariki of our country. We were no longer just a small group, but rather a professional organisation prepared to stand by our words and lead by example in the education of children. We as a whānau have gravitated to a new level, and as such, will be compelled to deliver the service expected by those supporters and others looking on. We are thankful for the kind words, inspiration and challenges set by our National Conference speakers; Honorable Paula Bennett, Henare O’Keefe, Pale Sauni, Paul Nixon, and Deborah Morris-Travers. As we embark on this quarter, we remember that others will follow our footsteps far more than our instructions, and bear in mind that it’s easier when we have others alongside us. We endeavour where possible to collaborate and work alongside our co-workers, partners and communities for the betterment of all tamariki! Kia kaha! You’re doing a great job!




(aka Founder and CEO)

Footsteps hold the first vulnerable children's conference Footsteps recently held a three-day National Conference at the National Rowing Centre in Karapiro, Cambridge. The event, held from August 20th-22nd brought together an impressive panel of experts for the country’s first conference focused on ECE for vulnerable children. Throughout the National Conference over 70 Footsteps early childhood teachers and staff listened to presentations from Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development; Paul Nixon, chief social worker for Child Youth and Family; Deborah Morris-Travers, manager of Every Child Counts; Henare O’Keefe, community champion and Pale Sauni, Pasifika learning expert. Footsteps chief executive Kevin Christie says New Zealand has a huge problem with vulnerable children and gatherings such as this conference are vital for bringing together New Zealand’s leaders in the field. “This was a truly unique and special conference bringing together inspirational speakers and workshops to strengthen our ability as an organisation to tackle the real issues surrounding vulnerable children. By equipping our early childhood teachers with the expertise they need to work with the most vulnerable, they in turn are able to inspire the caregivers and children they support in homes throughout New Zealand,” says Christie. The theme for the National Conference was ‘Mission Possible: Inspiring the lives of vulnerable children’, to fit with the launch of the Footsteps Foundation, a focus for this conference. The Foundation has been established to ensure more vulnerable children are able to gain access to specialised early childhood support. Businesses and individuals are able to partner with Footsteps to sponsor teachers to reach children who may not qualify for Ministry of Education funding. To learn more about the Footsteps Foundation visit Minister for Social Development Hon Paula Bennett gave a keynote speech, discussing the Children’s Action Plan legislation and how the government is working to better protect vulnerable children. Christie says that while the government is making progress, there is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done.


Our inspirational guest speakers Throughout the conference our exceptional guest speakers took us on an emotional journey, through topics surrounding vulnerable children. Henare O’Keefe spoke about his life as a foster father, the importance of love and relationships, and the importance of a woman’s role in raising children. Pale Sauni, spoke to us about cultures of the Pacific and different values of Pasifika people. Deborah Morris-Travers spoke to us about the organisation that she leads, Every Child Counts, what children say needs to be changed, and how we can align with other organisations to achieve these outcomes. Child, Youth and Family chief social worker, Paul Nixon, spoke to us about what the Vulnerable Children’s Bill means for us and how to keep children safe from abuse. From these fantastic speakers our staff learnt more about how we can inspire the lives of vulnerable children.

Announcing the fun new child and caregiver kete We presented the new child and caregiver kete at our National Conference, with fantastic feedback from all of the whānau. The new child’s folder, the Learning Treasure Book, is more fun, child-focused and durable so that children can look through and follow their learning journey. The updated caregiver kete is more comprehensive and easy to read. You will start seeing these fun new resources out and about soon.

Yvette Hendry painting the new Cross Rose playground

The Footsteps Poutama Recognition Award Annually at the Footsteps National Conference we recognise excellence by awarding someone in our team with the Poutama award. Poutama symbolises the steps to heaven taken by the Māori ancestor Tāwhaki to receive the three kete of knowledge and the steps to success we all make through our personal progress and development. year we congratulated Michele Bishop, our Footsteps kaiako (teacher) in the Kapiti ni ThisCoast and Porirua area. Michele has been with Footsteps for 10 years and has always Ka pai To maintained her passion for working with children. Michele is always professional and focused in her teaching role and provides the highest quality, taking pride in the service that she provides to the children and caregivers that she works with. Another very special presentation was given to Toni Waetford, Regional Director of the Nga waewae o Tamaki team. Toni was given a taonga to acknowledge her fantastic work within the Papakura community, particularly with the setup and facilitation of Te Pōtiki, the Footsteps drop in centre in the heart of Papakura. We also congratulate Toni as she has now gone on maternity leave to have her own little baby.

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Congratulations Michele


How does a child's gender affect their learning and play? Right from birth children are getting messages, both positively and negatively about what it means to be a boy or a girl. How gender effects a child’s learning is influenced by both nature and nurture. A simple way of looking at the difference between the two is: nature is what is already there at birth – a child’s genetic make-up; nurture is the influence of the environment around us from close relationships with family, the wider community and world around us.

How do we unknowingly promote stereotypes around gender? Visit toy shops or large stores like the Warehouse and you will see aisles labelled ‘girls’ toys’ and ‘boys’ toys’. The girls’ aisles are filled with Barbie, cute animal toys, fairy outfits, tea sets and dolls. Boys’ aisles are jam packed with big trucks, dinosaurs, tool sets and super hero costumes. This sends out a message of what is ‘appropriate’ to buy for each gender and what boys and girls ‘should’ like. Unfortunately some children are given negative messages when they explore non-traditional toys. A boy who goes to play with a doll might be told by an older child or even an adult, “that’s a girl’s toy.” Sometimes nothing negative is said but exploring outside traditional gender roles is not supported. If they are never bought a tea set then how can they benefit from the language and social skills that are enhanced during this type of play? With girls, the messages may be more subtle. They may not be told they can’t play with something however are not given the opportunity to do so. A girl can’t learn about putting together a train set if they are never given one, nor can they learn to use a hammer if there is not one in their environment or they are not encouraged to give it a go and be shown how to do it safely.

Children’s play choices and gender The younger a child is the more likely they are to play with a wider variety of toys. While there are some preferences influenced by nature, young children have not yet been as influenced as their older peers with gender. This is why you will see eighteen month old boys dressing up with little high heels or fairy wings, but you are less likely to see a five


year old boy do the same. Very young children will play with what they want to play with without fear of what others will think or say. We can make the most of this time by having lots of variety available for children in their play. As a teacher, I take toys and learning resources in all curriculum areas regardless of gender. Both boys and girls are given train sets, digger trucks, art and collage sets, dolls, prams, tea sets, carpentry sets, science experiments, messy play, dress ups, instruments and more. This enables them to explore new interests and challenges regardless of gender.

What can we do to get rid of gender stereotypes in play and to encourage our boys and girls learning without bias? • Go with your child’s interests rather than what you like or what you think they should like. This year my seven year daughter wanted a dinosaur party which was in contrast to the Barbie or fairy parties typical amongst her friends. However rather than try and change her mind or say “but wouldn’t you rather have a princess party”, we went with it and she had a great party. • Mix different areas of play such as a tea set with sand play. • When choosing books look for ones that show both genders in varied and positive roles such as men and women looking after a baby, being a doctor or teacher, being a superhero. • Encourage quiet play with boys such as drawing and arts and crafts from a young age. As a teacher of children in home based childcare for Footsteps, I encourage you to allow your child to play with a variety of toys and ensure that they do not feel restricted by traditional gender roles from a young age. What are your thoughts on gender and stereotyping with toys? Jacqueline Taylor, Footsteps kaiako (teacher) Auckland

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Unpacking children’s potential through play

How to make Bongo Pongos You will need: • • • • •

Old washed tin can Balloon Insulation tape Plain or coloured paper Pens/paints


1. Cut the end of the balloon off. 2. Stretch the balloon tightly over the top of the tin can. 3. Use tape to secure the balloon to the tin – this way the balloon will not slip off when your child is playing with their drum. 4. Put some plain or coloured paper around the outside of the tin and decorate it with paint, felts, stickers - use your imagination. 5. Use your wooden pegs for drumsticks and get jamming.

What the child learns

• Sustainability and recycling • The different sounds the drum makes depending on where you bang it • Discussion around rhythm and creating a beat

How to extend learning • • •

Provide your child with extra music to allow them to drum along to the rhythm. Explore other musical instruments that can be made out of household items. Make several different sized drums using other types of containers to show how the sound changes depending on the size.

How to make a Popsicle Christmas tree Directions

You will need:

1. If your ice block sticks are not already green, paint them and leave to dry. 2. Take 2 small ice block sticks and cut one 2cm smaller. Then take another and cut it 2cm smaller than the last. 3. Repeat this with all the small ice block sticks so that it creates the horizontal lines of the tree (see picture). 4. Glue small ice block sticks onto the large stick in order of smallest to largest. 5. Decorate your tree with collage materials and allow to dry.

• 1 large and 7 small

ice block sticks

• PVA glue • Small stars, glitter and other collage materials • String

6. Attach string to the top of the tree to hang on a Christmas tree or use as a table decoration.

What the child learns • • • •

Fine motor skills To recognise different times of the calendar year Concentration skills Mathematical concepts: understanding small to large

How to extend learning

• Make different Christmas trees from natural materials such as sticks and ferns. • Go to your local garden centre and look at the different types of trees. • Bake Christmas tree cookies and decorate them as gifts.

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The Footsteps 'Make a Difference Makeover' cont. At Footsteps National Conference the 70-strong Footsteps whānau got their hands dirty, upgrading the Cross Rose Residential Home in Hamilton. Throughout the four hours, the Footsteps whānau split into groups, each focusing on different areas of the Cross Rose home. A team outside in the garden focused on building a new playground and putting up a contained sand-pit for the little ones to explore and enjoy. Indoors the teams were hard at work giving the big hallways and entrance way a fresh coat of paint to bring it back to life. The lounge was also renovated and redecorated with many new learning resources, toys and some nice new artwork created by our creative Footsteps kaiako to make the room feel more child orientated and family friendly. Challenge organiser and Footsteps Community Director, Donna Elliot, said the project was a great opportunity for Footsteps to join forces with local businesses to invest time and resources into a valuable project. “Our core focus in this project was to invest in the lives of children and their parents. Footsteps’ focus is always in valuing children for the unique individuals that they are while promoting positive early experiences. These positive experiences are a catalyst for promoting the child’s ability to learn and develop in a healthy way,” said Donna Elliot.

To watch a video of the Footsteps whanau working on the ‘Make a Difference Makeover’ visit

Footsteps support Buddy Day

Footsteps is getting geared up to be a part of Buddy Day, an annual event held on the 15th of November by Child Matters. Buddy Day is held to raise awareness and start conversations throughout the country about child abuse and the role we play in keeping children safe. The aim of Buddy Day is to bring social change around the way that we value children; which is something that we at Footsteps hold close to our heart. As a sponsor of Buddy Day Footsteps will be playing it’s part,


spreading the word about Buddy Day on a national scale. Our Footsteps kaiako (teachers) from Kaitaia to Invercargill will be decorating their Buddy with a face, clothing and giving their Buddy a big personality! Their Buddy is then going to be taken out and about in the community for two weeks, encouraging conversation about child abuse. Footsteps staff will also be attending ‘Buddy Breakfasts’ throughout the North Island with other like minded organisations to talk about how we can help to prevent children from becoming vulnerable. Footsteps has been a part of Buddy Day for the last three years, and understand the importance of this special event. Donna Elliot, Footsteps Community Director said, “The Buddy Day message is a fantastic way to start conversations about what we can do to keep all children safe. Footsteps takes the subject of child abuse very seriously and Child Matters identifies that Footsteps involvement is changing outcomes for children, and decreasing the possibility of a child becoming vulnerable”.

“Children can't prevent child abuse - but adults can.” Everyone everywhere can show they care and take part in Buddy Day 2013. To find out more visit

Showing the love

At Footsteps we are lucky to work with lots of very special foster parents, who care for, support and love the little ones that need it the most. Footsteps caregiver, Gaye Brooker, is one of a kind, caring for over 130 babies over the last 30 years. Selflessly, Gaye cares for children when they are at their most vulnerable, entering the world on their own. At the young age of 20 years old Gaye and her husband (aged 23) decided to become foster parents. At this point they were told that they were too young and were only able to foster Child, Youth and Family children in the school holidays. At the age of 27 Gaye and her husband fostered their first baby long term. Baby Aroha was born with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome and was instantly part of the family, living with the Brookers for 11 years before returning to live with her birth father. At the age of 16 Aroha fell pregnant and choose to live with the Brookers once again. Aroha gave birth to a little girl, named Libby, who the Brookers took guardianship and custody of at birth, and adopted at aged nine.

“Aroha asked us to take guardianship and

custody of Libby and I was there for her birth. There was a bond between her and I before we even started. There was no way Libby could have gone anywhere else.” Over the years Gaye has had breaks from fostering children, working as a Karitane Nurse for Plunket and caring for children through Barnados. Gaye says “I have withdrawals after a while,” when she is not caring for any children. Gaye finds it hard to let go of children in her care, particularly when she has cared for them for several months, and says she often feels like there is something missing when they move on. She does see some of the children again though. “ One little boy we had, he comes to me and I know he loves me. He’s the little one we had, for 15 months and he’s now four. He’s gorgeous and

he knows who we are. The ones that you have for a long time. It’s really neat if you can see them again because then it doesn’t break your heart so much when they go.” Heartbreakingly some of the children that she has fostered have been addicted to drugs, come from violent homes, or come to her straight from birth. Brooker is often the first person that these children can rely on for stability, love and care. Some of the children that Gaye has fostered have come up for adoption, others have gone to live with extended family or Permanency. Gaye believes that, “Permanency is a great thing. That’s a new thing for people who are trying to adopt, get a child or baby through permanency, and give them a home because there’s a lot of kids in care that need to be loved forever.” Gaye is one of 150 approved caregivers in the Tauranga area. Child, Youth and Family caregiver and social worker, Ian Donaldson, says it’s a challenging role and more foster parents are currently needed to spread the load. “They are people that the staff here hold in very high esteem. They are a small group of the community doing an amazing job with very short notice. They might get a call at 3pm and get a child half an hour later.” The Brookers also have four adult biological children. Hayley, Gaye’s 28 year old daughter says as a little girl it was fantastic having real babies to play with, rather than dollies. She said her mother had a big heart and always had a way of letting each of her children know that they were special. Gaye’s husband Harvey says,

“Those babies get every bit of love they could ever wish for. It’s never like they’re a foster child - ever. They’re like her own.”

The Brookers are one of the absolutely amazing foster families that we work with at Footsteps who inspire the lives of vulnerable children.

Footsteps have breakFASD to support Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder day Many children who suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) will receive the support and expertise they deserve due to an inspiring new partnership between Alcohol Healthwatch and Footsteps. Footsteps CEO Kevin Christie has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Alcohol Healthwatch Trust. Through this partnership Alcohol Healthwatch will give training to all of Footsteps 70 qualified ECE teachers. This training will enable the Footsteps teachers to identify and best support children suffering from FASD. This is the first agreement of its kind with an early childhood organisation in New Zealand to address the ‘real’ issues we face here in New Zealand that can lead to children becoming vulnerable. Alcohol Healthwatch Trust health promotion’s advisor, Christine Rogan, is delighted with the new partnership stating,“Parents and caregivers who are given the right training can dramatically help improve the lives of FASD children.”

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Tipare loves the new Footsteps cars

Footsteps birthday celebrations are a hit

With the update of the Footsteps branding and the new, fun imagery, Footsteps tamaiti Tipare now has her face on more than 20 Footsteps cars. In her September visit from her kaiako Alisha, Tipare got to see her picture holding pride of place on her teacher’s car. The very photogenic Tipare then posed for another picture, this time inside of the Footsteps car.

Footsteps began holding birthday celebrations for the special children that we journey with through Child, Youth and Family in June, and have since celebrated birthdays with over 60 children. At Footsteps we understand that a child’s self-worth comes from a sense of belonging; believing that they are capable, valued and worthwhile. Our personalised birthday celebrations have been created to reinforce to a child that they are unique, celebrating their special day and who they are. Each of the children who receives a birthday celebration is made a special ‘My Memory Book’ incorporating photos, stories and the voice of the child.


Ara Poutama

Kia ora koutou, This year the Māori language week theme was ‘Ngā ingoa Māori, Māori names’. Making an effort to pronounce someone’s name is a great way to show respect and often can help build whanaungatanga or relationships with people. Māori place names are all around us and for many, we have become accustomed to a particular way of pronouncing them that may not be correct. Check this link out for some hints on correct pronunciation on some well known towns, Māori names and place names are often rich in history, and often have quite a tale around their meanings. Why not find out some interesting facts about your region and teach the tamariki in your care about them to create a sense of pride and belonging for their town. Here is a link to help get you on track with great pronounciation Give it a go! Start with what’s around you, master that, and keep going - kia kaha ki te kōrero Māori!

One small step for your child, one giant leap for their education Want to know more about the Footsteps ‘Learn’ Programme or our free childcare service? Call 0800 366 878 to speak to one of the team.


Footsteps Poutama Newsletter - October 2013  

Check out our latest edition of Poutama magazine - packed with fun learning resources, interesting blogs and news from the Footsteps whanau!

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