Shania Twain Cover Photo © Alexander Harbauch
International sweetheart and the reigning Queen of Country Pop Shania Twain knows what it is like to be a child living in a dysfunctional family. In fact, much of her childhood revolved around keeping up appearances so that no one would know that her family life was far from perfect. In between days of going to school hungry, with no lunch packed and with greasy hair and dirty clothes – both hungry and embarrassed, she made a vow that if she made it someday, she would make sure to find a way to give back to kids like her so they would have access to the support that she so desperately needed as a child. Years later, she is making good on that promise.
Shania: Where it All Began
In a letter detailing her story, Shania explains that her school experience was far different from that of her peers. Her classmates had cleaner clothes, hot water for bathing, and lunches packed with nutritious food. Unlike her own, their parents signed school forms on time, attended parent-teacher conferences, and reserved spots at school assemblies. Meanwhile, Shania was unable to get authorization signatures from her parents because they were unavailable. As an adult, she realizes that these disadvantages created insecurities that caused her to withdraw from her school and social life.
In her letter, she reflects on how a program like Shania Kids Can could have changed the way her childhood played out. Having a compassionate, enthusiastic, and empathetic support person, like the SKC Program Leaders, would have made her feel like she had someone in her corner, someone who would have been there to support her during parts of her day that she found challenging.
“I would have felt that even though I might have been going home to dysfunction, I knew I had a safe, attentive, nurturing environment that I could count on and look forward to each day.”—Shania Twain
Even before founding Shania Kids Can, Shania was a well-known and outspoken advocate for underprivileged youth. In 1996, she donated all Canadian profits from her single “God Bless the Child” to the Canadian Living Breakfast for Learning program. All US profits were donated to the Feeding America food banks. Shania also provided funding closer to home to support nutrition programs at schools in Timmins and Dwight, Ontario, long before breakfast programs were widely implemented. These programs were the basis for what would become Shania Kids Can. Founded in 2010, SKC is fulfilling the vow she made to one day help kids like herself.
Kids Can: Feel Supported
Shania Kids Can provides services that promote positive change in children’s lives in times of crisis and economic hardship. They work with elementary schools throughout North America, delivering wrap-around services that provide comprehensive support and stability by qualified professionals to the most vulnerable children within that school.
SKC provides children with one-on-one consultations, academic support, group activities, and nutritious snacks and meal programs where needed, all while in the safe, confidence-building environment of the Shania Kids Can Clubhouse. These children are learning the skills to cope with and overcome family hardships, which, in turn, improves their ability to succeed in school.
School-age children from homes that cannot provide adequately for them are too hungry or worried about basic human needs to focus on academic success. This is a common problem, which is why school breakfast programs, food banks, and programs like Shania Kids Can have become so leaned upon today. The SKC Clubhouse is a safe place where children can go for help without jeopardizing their parents’ dignity or their own.
Shania Kids Can not only has a positive effect on the children in the program, but it has also been proven to play an integral part in improving the entire school community, for teachers and parents as well. Shania Kids Can helps by providing specialized on-site programs for children facing difficulties. The result is increased school performance and better integration in the school community. It aids teachers by increasing the psychological, academic, and attention capacity of students. It benefits parents by providing funds for field trips, increased academic support, and a sense of security. Finally, the program helps the community by creating a positive cycle for students that will cause less social problems and costs as children reach adulthood.
Shania has more than fulfilled the promise she made to herself. The Shania Kids Can Clubhouse plays an important role in the lives of at-risk youth. The results are impressive; year over year, we see significant improvement in the areas of mental and physical health and in the kids’ academic performance.—Sandy MacNevin – SKC Managing Director
Kids Can: At Home
Shania Kids Can knows that being isolated at home because of COVID-19 can be stressful for the children and families. The SKC Program Leaders have been working virtually to connect with students and their families to offer online support. What they’ve found is that these children really miss school – and each other!
During COVID-19, we have been successful in adapting to an online support model. The Program Leaders are doing tremendous work with the kids and their families to ensure they have everything they need during this time. —Sandy MacNevin – SKC Managing Director
The Program Leaders have been coming up with creative ways to keep the kids connected to a network of friends and schoolmates. One Program Leader in Ontario has been producing videos for the kids, doing Zumba classes, baking lessons, and mindfulness classes. In Nashville, one SKC student is continuing her guitar, vocal, and piano lessons with her instructor via Skype.
Shania Kids Can also knows that many families are facing financial difficulty being laid off from work due to COVID-19 closures. They have been providing a direct line of support to families in their network, helping them through this challenging time in whatever ways necessary.
Now, while much of the world waits out the COVID-19 crisis, Shania is working on her music, making live-stream appearances, and virtually welcoming fans into her home. In April, she opened for Canada Together: In Concert, a five-night broadcast presented by ET Canada and the Canadian Country Music Association Foundation. All proceeds raised from the broadcast were donated equally between Food Banks Canada and the Unison Benevolent Fund, supporting Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shania Twain Let’s Go! The Las Vegas Residency kicked off in December 2019 at Zappos Theatre at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, and played to sold-out crowds through March before being postponed due to COVID-19. SKC has received a boost in fundraising with Shania, Live Nation Las Vegas, and Caesars Entertainment, donating $1 of every ticket to SKC.
Ever the optimist, Shania shared the following with Cheryl Hickey of ET Canada;
“I want to send you a smile because no matter how bad things are, I think it’s important to stay positive. I want to share hope and love and strength to all of you out there who are going through more of a challenging time. My heart is with you, and know that I’m thinking of you. We all are.”
For more information about Shania Kids Can and to donate, please visit www.shaniakidscan.com
For the latest information on show dates and tickets, visit shaniatwain.com
“I feel luck saved me from falling through the cracks as a child and believe it’s neither wise nor fair to leave the destiny of any child to luck.” —Shania Twain