Six primary schools across the country receive funding boost towards school sport

AA Insurance reveals Big Little winners - playground equipment to support neurodiverse children and additional goal post to make a full game of rugby possible, The Big Little Sponsorship is making sporting dreams come true.

Over the last few months, primary school communities across the country submitted more than 4,600 entries in a bid to win two $10,000 sports grants offered by the AA Insurance “Big Little Sponsorship”. The entries comprise nearly 60% of all New Zealand primary schools.

The recipients of the two $10,000 grants can now be revealed, with East Gore School and Arakura School in Lower Hutt named as the winners.

Second and third placed schools in the North Island are Eskdale School receiving $2,000 and Pakowhai School receiving $1,000, and the South Island’s Franz Josef Glacier School receiving $2,000, and Russley School receiving $1,000 respectively.

North Island winner: Arakura School, Lower Hutt

Harnessing the power of sport for neurodiverse students is the North Island winner Arakura School in Lower Hutt.

With 140 students, neurodiversity plays a huge role, with over half needing additional support. Principal Tute Mila says they were thrilled to hear about winning the Big Little grant.

“Finding resourcing for the school is challenging as most of our funding goes towards staffing learning assistants who can support our neurodivergent students. Sport plays an essential role in regulating emotions and learning necessary life skills.

Physical movement is critical for young children, especially those with sensory needs. Through movement and fitness we create a pathway towards helping students become in-tune with their emotions and learn how to self-regulate,” says Ms Mila.

The grant money will go towards additional sensory play equipment and equipment for athletics, basketball, and football – as some of the areas already identified by staff and students.

South Island winner: East Gore School, Gore

The winner for the South Island is a small school at the heart of its community located by the Mataura River, East Gore School.

With 105 students and six teachers, principal Wendy Kitto says the school is a safe place to play and enjoy sports.

“It was a journey of five years to develop a variety of play and sports activities within our school. The rugby goalpost was where the funding ended for the project, and we only managed one.

When we found out we had won, we were over the moon. The funding boost is going to be essential for our school. We have a talented miniball (basketball) team who often win competitions and don’t have a space to practice. Therefore, getting additional basketball hoops will be part of the list as well as buying a second rugby goalpost.”

Melodie Vickars, Head of Brand and Marketing AA Insurance said “The calibre of the entries this year was fantastic which made choosing our winners super tough. What stood out to us about our winners was their community spirit around sport. Both East Gore and Arakura have extraordinary stories on the school’s outlook around well-being and sports, and we are grateful to be able to help make a difference for these communities.”

About AA Insurance

AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association Limited (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 1000+ employees look after 500,000+ customers with more than 1,000,000 policies.

We proudly partner with Variety New Zealand – the Children’s Charity (as the lead partner of its Beds for Kids programme), Student Volunteer Army and support grassroot school sports via our Big Little Sponsorship sports grant in partnership with Eden Park. We are consistently recognised in industry awards and honours, including being voted the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted General Insurer for 13 years running, named Canstar’s 2023 Home and Contents Insurer of the Year and Outstanding Value Award winner, and currently ranked 7th amongst 100 of New Zealand’s most successful companies in the Kantar Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015).

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