Country-pop queen Shania Twain brings inspirational space to underprivileged kids

Calgary Sun
By Bill Kaufmann
July 7, 2014

Singer/Songwriter Shania Twain announces Calgary's first Shania Kids Can Program at Catherine Nicols Gunn school in Calgary, Alta on Monday Jul 7, 2014. The program is designed to assist underprivileged children in academic, nutritional and extracurricular issues.

Recounting memories of her own childhood heartache, country mega-star Shania Twain brought a happier refrain to a Calgary School Monday.

Twain told kids struggling with school and a tough home life to come on over to a clubhouse at Catherine Nichols Gunn School in Huntington Hills.

Her Kids Can Foundation has teamed up with the Dilawri Foundation to hire a staffer to operate the room that’ll provide nutritional, intellectual and moral support to underprivileged kids.

Twain, in Calgary to play two rare Canadian concerts on Wednesday and Thursday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, said her own hardscrabble upbringing in Timmins, Ont., led her to launch the effort in three other Canadian cities.

“I wish I could have had a room like this when I was your age,” Twain said told a group of adoring young children at her feet.

“I always wished I could have had a better school life, a better home life.”

The singer told of showing up at school hungry and dirty to face humiliation.

“When I was kid going to school, I didn’t look forward to it,” she said.

But Twain said she’s looking forward to having beleaguered children enjoying moral, nutritional and academic guidance in a safe and fun environment.

“We want to inspire kids to want to come to school,” she said.

Other schools in the program are located in Regina, Vancouver and Toronto, with another one operating in Las Vegas, where Twain spends much of time doing shows.

“With the support of everyone believing in this need, we’re expanding,” she said.

Student Destiny Clennett said she was thrilled to meet Twain, who she called a compassionate role model.

“She’s a really nice and helping person, she helps a lot of people,” said Clennett, 12.

“When she was there I thought ‘I’m not dreaming’ — I had to pinch myself twice.”

The clubhouse will directly benefit a core group of 15-20 students but ultimately also help much of the school, said Catherine Nichols Gunn principal Steve Wigglesworth.