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AMI Community Grants winner Cholmondeley Children's Centre

It’s a lovely, sunny day in Canterbury and the kids are out and about playing. There’s a mini skating rink for their scooters and one of the smaller kids is about to try it out for the first time, getting last minute help to tighten her helmet. Once she is ready to go, she proudly walks to the edge of the rink to join the bigger kids. She looks nervous but all that disappears as the people around her gives some last-minute encouragement and reminders of safety.

“Go on, it’s okay.”

And off she goes, conquering the big, scary skating rink, making it to the other side safely.

“I did it!” she yells once she’s perched atop, hands in the air, proud and victorious.

Stepping inside Cholmondeley Children’s Centre is not what one might expect when they think of a children’s centre. You’re greeted by tall trees and glimpses of the harbour. The views are picturesque, tall trees and glimpses of the lake everywhere. It’s easy to feel like you’re in a summer camp. It’s a safe refuge – warm and inviting. The kind of place you can forget all of life’s stresses and challenges in.

The hills and blue sky are the background against the playground. The centre itself looks out to a serene body of water. The place is lively and colourful – children’s art everywhere even in the office area, learning boards, materials for arts and crafts in a corner where the kids have obviously been busy creating, pairs of muddy gumboots in different sizes outside. There is no mistaking that the children are the heart and soul of this place.

The kids are curious and excitable, the way kids usually are. They are not afraid to speak their mind and ask questions, occasionally bantering with CEO Arron Perriam. There’s no question that the children under Cholmondeley’s care are happy, and that they feel safe around the staff.

Cholmondeley Children’s Centre (pronounced Chum-lee) gives short-term emergency and planned respite care and education to children aged 3-12 whose families are experiencing genuine stress or crisis.

Children can become vulnerable in these situations so Cholmondeley aims to give our tamariki the opportunity to build resilience while issues at home are being resolved. They are provided with education, healthy good, activities, hygiene supplies, transport, and 24-hour care during their stay. Education is delivered through Cholmondeley’s Adventure Based Learning programme where the kids engage in activities like fishing, kayaking, hill-walking, gardening, cooking, and orienteering. These activities allow them to uncover their strengths, feel proud of their achievements, and encourage them to find their own paths.

This environment means they can learn and make lasting memories in a safe setting rather than be adversely affected by the challenges they may be facing at home. They are the only ones in New Zealand that do this type of work.

Cholmondeley is one of the winner’s in the latest round of AMI and Neighbourly’s Community Grants with their grant being used towards the overall operating costs that are needed to ensure that they can keep the centre running. Last year alone they helped 519 kids – the highest number in their 93-year history.

We are proud to be supporting Cholmondeley Children’s Centre and the important work they do for the future generation.

Find out more about Cholmondeley here and follow them on Facebook!