Backpack Program Boosts Self-Confidence and Promotes Inclusion in the Classroom

Salvation Army volunteer packs backpacks
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In many locations across Canada, The Salvation Army is stuffing backpacks with school supplies to ensure that every elementary and high-school student is empowered to succeed, and struggling families have one less thing to worry about.

“It’s so nice to have a new backpack and school supplies,“ says Jennifer, Grade 10. “It makes me feel included and on the same level as my classmates.”

‘The need for supplies is increasing”

Jennifer is one of more than 50 children and youth receiving a backpack at The Salvation Army in Bowmanville, Ont., this year.

“Food comes first,” says Andrew Cherry, community ministries worker. “If you have a limited amount of money, you won’t be buying school supplies.”

This year, due to the pandemic, parents have to buy additional supplies for in-class learning, such as masks, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes. The extra financial strain may mean their children won’t arrive at school well-equipped to learn for some families.

“We want to make sure every child feels they belong”

“The need for supplies is increasing,” says Cherry. “We want to make sure every child feels they belong and has the essentials they need for learning.”

The backpacks are age and grade-appropriate and filled with paper, pens, pencils, erasers, geometry sets and rulers.

“The backpacks are always loaded with good things,” says Tim, Grade 5. “And I love the snacks.”

“If transportation issues prevent people from picking up their backpack, we deliver it to their home,” says Cherry. “We don’t want anyone to be that person who comes to school the first day without a backpack and supplies. Children and youth need to have as normal a school experience as possible.”

By Linda Leigh