Te Uki Ou is the first school on Rarotonga to include sun hats as part of the pupils’ uniform, offering them to children for free, thanks to two local sponsors.
“We would like to say a huge thank-you for the generous donation of the wide brimmed sunhats from Vonnia’s, and the printing of the logos by Fave Designs,” said school principal Brendon Fiebig.
“Our students were fortunate to receive the fantastic new wide-brimmed hats. The hats keep the harsh Rarotonga sun off their heads, faces, and help the children avoid getting sunstroke. They also allow the kids to remain, and look, cool in the hot sun.”
The school devoted a week to educating the children on sun safety by following the well-established New Zealand Sun Smart programme.
The programme delivers the “Slip, Slop, Slap”, message about the need to avoid too much sun and warns about dehydration and the times the sun is at its harshest.
“The message is to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat, and wrap the rest of ourselves up,” said Fiebig.
“We all love the sun and being out in it, but it does carry its own dangers, so we taught students the good and bad things that they should be aware of.”
Although he doesn’t necessarily think other schools on Rarotonga will follow Te Uki Ou’s example, Fiebig agreed it would be an added bonus.
And the new hats proved extremely popular with the students, despite the fact that wearing them isn’t compulsory.
“We maintain that hats are an optional choice for parents and they are not compulsory in our school, as we support the right of parent’s free choice in this regard.”
The week ended with children queuing outside the office doors, enthusiastically awaiting their new school “cowboy hats”.