Shania Twain visits Surrey school to launch program for underprivileged children

Metro News
By Emily Jackson
June 8, 2015

Shania Twain looks every bit the superstar after decades in the spotlight, but she certainly didn’t feel like a celebrity when growing up in poverty in Ontario, she told children at a Surrey elementary school on Monday.

Canada’s queen of country music visited Hjorth Road Elementary School to launch B.C.’s first Shania Kids Can program, a clubhouse where children receive support they’re not getting at home including nutritious food and counselling.

With her rockstar sunglasses on throughout the press conference, she told about 20 children that her family couldn’t always afford shampoo and she was sometimes embarrassed to go to school with greasy hair.

The new program, the sixth in the country, will provide these “basic simple things we take for granted” to help children go through their day with confidence and the ability to focus on their studies, Twain said.

She thanked the Surrey School Board and the Dilawri Foundation for making the program possible (the Dilawri Group is an auto dealer that donated $1.6 million to four Shania Kids Can programs across Canada). She called the charity “unpopular” because many people aren’t aware of the problem. About 12 per cent of Canadian children live in unhealthy poverty, according to the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.

“From my heart, I just want to say that if I had this program when I was a kid, who knows where I’d be right now,” Twain said. “I was just one of the lucky ones. I always say to myself I really made it by chance. Regardless of how much talent you have, you need support. And without support… you will most likely fall through the cracks.”

“I just don’t think it’s fair to leave our kids that vulnerable where they could fall through the cracks just because we weren’t aware this problem existed,” she added.

Twain’s goal is to expand the program as long as there is a need. The next clubhouse will open at a school in Saskatchewan.

Twain, who took questions from the children, told students they were “beautiful on the inside and out” when she received handmade artwork from a girl power group.

Twain’s next concert is at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.