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SECONDARY SCHOOLS GET BEHIND 2017 RSA POPPY APPEAL

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Paraparaumu College students unleash their creativity in support of the RSA Poppy Appeal.

The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) is, for the first time, offering a participatory challenge to secondary school students to generate awareness and understanding of the needs of New Zealand’s 41,000 veterans.

The RSA ‘School Challenge’ pack has been distributed to all of New Zealand’s secondary schools and provides a range of challenges for schools to take on as fundraising opportunities to contribute to the Poppy Appeal, while building awareness of the RSA, its work and the people it supports.

It has been launched as part of the lead-up to the RSA’s 95th annual Poppy Appeal, the organisation’s major fundraising drive. The schools initiative has been facilitated and deployed by RSA’s digital and printing partner, Perception Group. It is the first time a nationwide campaign of this type has been offered.

One early adopter of the Schools Challenge programme is Paraparaumu College.

RSA Chief Executive and former Head of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Jack Steer, met with teachers and students at the college on Monday to kick off the programme.

“We’ve suggested 40 ways that the students can set themselves a challenge as a fun way to raise funds. These range from charging entry fees for quiz nights and dance competitions to holding auctions, the proceeds from which would help improve the quality of life for those who have served and sacrificed on our behalf.”

“The Kiwi veterans we support range from teenagers to those over one hundred. Our youngest is just 18 years old – not much older than the students here.

“We wanted to get the programme up and running this year and our aim is to build on this in future years to create a strong connection between schools and school students and the work of the RSA,” said Mr Steer.

Paraparaumu College Principal Gregor Fountain said students were eager to get involved in activities to support and remember New Zealand’s service personnel.

“We have considerable interest from our young people – while, at the same time, so few have knowledge from a direct connection with someone serving, or who has served,” he said.

Mr Fountain attributed the rising interest in remembrance and support to the lack of ritual in the lives of young people, as well as the search for identity and belonging.

“This has helped them think not just to buy a poppy, but to think about how they could give back, too.”

The local RSA collected for an annual scholarship to assist a student from the school in further studies – and this was a chance to return the favour, he said.

The 2017 Poppy Appeal, which culminates with Poppy Day on Friday April 21, will have its National Launch on April 5.

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