Learning for Life support sees Melanie flourish

It was a proud day for Judy when daughter Melanie was elected school captain. After plenty of planning and practice 12-year-old Melanie summoned up the courage and stepped out in front of the school assembly, speaking about the importance of "being a good role model and a leader to other kids". A confident, kind and articulate student, it's no surprise Melanie's peers elected her to the position.

But the self-confidence and motivation that Melanie embodies today, hasn't always been so evident. "Melanie wasn't always a confident reader or good with Maths," says mum Judy. "Her levels of confidence have grown from near nothing, to becoming school captain." Judy attributes her new found skills and confidence to the support the family receives through the Learning for Life program.

Melanine outdoors

Melanie, Learning for Life student

We have got Mel through here to school captain because of The Smith Family and their support," the mother-of-two says. "It makes such a difference knowing you have a bit of support behind you if something happens.

Judy, Melanie's mum

Judy knows how hard it can be financially to get children through their school years, even in the public school system. "They don't ask for a lot in primary school, but they still need to look the part," says Judy. "They need nice uniforms, they need stationery for school and things like that." Having struggled to get her oldest daughter, Rosie, through school on her own as a single mother, it was a relief for Judy to hear that support was available. When a relative told her about The Smith Family's Learning for Life program, Judy applied for sponsorship support. "[The sponsorship] has helped so much," comments Judy. "It is so much easier this time round with Melanie than it was with Rosie." The financial support she now receives helps to pay for items like Melanie's school fees, books, uniform and excursions.

With her school essentials in place, Melanie wears her School Captain's badge with pride. "It's going really well, we are really busy," says Melanie of her captaincy. "We have to organise assemblies, writing around to teachers and helping with sports too."

Caring for her 85 year old father and running her own cleaning business keeps Judy busy; but at least with the support of The Smith Family alleviating some financial pressure, she is able to find a balance between spending quality time with Melanie.

The financial support has also helped Judy pay for excursions for Melanie, like a recent trip to Canberra to visit Parliament House. "Mel loved her excursion in Canberra; she loved Parliament House and learnt so much. Things like excursions are a great opportunity for the kids to go out there and see what happens. I think that whether they come from a good home, or from an underprivileged family, they all need to experience those things."

For Judy, Learning for Life support is about so much more than the help the family receives today. It's all about the future. Melanie is already looking ahead to high school next year having visited last term. "She is really looked forward to starting. She can't wait to get up there and conquer High School now!"

Melanie can't wait either and with thanks to her sponsor is thriving in her final year of primary school. "To my sponsor, I say 'thank you for helping'," Melanie says. "They are important because they help with mum and with the school and those sorts of things."

But in the meantime, Melanie has plenty on her plate, finishing Year 6 and completing her role as school captain. She describes the task as "a pretty big responsibility" but says she chose to do it "so that the little kids have someone good to look up to."

Melanie, we think you're great.

I used to work five jobs to put Rosie through school, and if I had to do that with Mel, then I would. But this time with Mel, The Smith Family has made it easier, and they have given me that extra time that I can sit with her and check her homework, we go through anything that she is stuck on too.

Judy