StarJam creates opportunities for young people with disabilities to experience joy in their hearts and the belief that anything is possible. The young people, known as Jammers, realize this through participating in unique kinds of performance activities, stage productions and other creative pursuits.
StarJam makes young people with disabilities feel whole. It provides them with the opportunity to look the world in the eye as equals.
“I always wanted to walk but since I’ve been in StarJam I’m glad I’m in a wheelchair” Olivia Shivas – Jammer
Through StarJam’s performance programmes young people with disabilities get to experience joy in their hearts and the belief that anything is possible. At the same time they provide inspiration and motivation to their audiences.
“The bravery and talent of the young performers was inspirational – like nothing else we’ve ever seen. It left every staff member feeling empowered to take on their own business challenges.” Ralph Norris, former CEO, Air New Zealand
Within the space of eight years, StarJam and has attracted five different of awards, affirming what our Jammers, families, volunteers and supporters tell us; the majority of Jammers have a life-changing experience.
StarJam focuses on children being a resource rather than being users of resources and in so doing differentiates itself from traditional charities.
The results of an independent evaluation revealed 15 benefits:
Jammers benefit by
- Having a special “haven”
- Having a place to explore their talents
- Having their own special community
- Learning new skills not otherwise available
- Building self confidence
- Increasing their self belief
- Creating hope for the future
- Having the confidence to try new things and succeed
Families benefit by
- Reduced stress because the Jammer has other interests
- Not alone any more, they can share experiences with other parents
- They enjoy watching the personal growth of the Jammer
- The Jammer’s progress and achievements create enhanced family pride
- The performance workshop programmes provide an opportunity to network
- The Jammer’s self belief and confidence generates optimism for the future
- Overall the performance workshop programmes contribute to increased happiness in the family
“In our fast paced lives today it is easy to lose sight of some fundamental values that are so important. The kids from StarJam do a fantastic job of reminding us how fulfilling the qualities of honesty, openness, courage and a love of life itself are. These are truly inspirational people who ask nothing of us, but give so much in return.”
Gary Tickle, CEO Nestle New Zealand
Who does StarJam serve
All young people with disabilities under the age of 25 are welcome to join any of StarJam’s performance programmes. No-one is asked anything about their disability of what their disability may be. StarJam is a proactively inclusive organisation.
StarJam is a platform where young people with disabilities get to demonstrate their resilience, creativity and talents and inspire and motivate others through their participation in unique kinds of performance activities, stage productions and other pursuits.
StarJam exists to bring about a world where young people with disabilities are not only successfully and fully integrated into our communities but are prized, respected and sought after for their unique talents and gifts, providing the community with confidence, compassion and inspiration.
The first four years
StarJam was launched in November 2002 and starting out producing major stage shows, with casts of up to 100 young people. It has also performed more than two dozen special performances for community and corporate conferences and special events, plus taken a number of young people on ‘jamming’ trips to the USA. Numbers grew from 12 who participated in the launch, to more than 250 young after four years.
StarJam’s early successes were the catalyst for the creation of the Talent Expansion Programme in April 2006. This programme was created to fulfil the need to provide continuing performance activities when the demand continued to outstrip the availability of places to perform, and consists of a series of weekly performance workshops in a variety of performance pursuits.
As far as it is known, there were and still is no other workshop programmes or classes in existence that replicate what StarJam has created for young people with disabilities within New Zealand.
The Talent Expansion Programme
Talent Expansion Programme is based on three tenets:
- Everybody has talents.
- Everyone’s talents will emerge at the right time for them
- It is paramount to encourage team spirit and peer support in a non-competitive environment.
The Talent Expansion Programme was an immediate success starting with four performance workshop programmes in 2006. Growth has been steady with seventeen different programes now available, eleven in Auckland, five in Hamilton, and one in Whangarei. Although it would be impossible to ensure that every young person could be accommodated in StarJam’s Talent Expansion Programme, our goal is to substantially increase the opportunities for young New Zealanders with a disability by expanding our presence nationwide.
Over the next three years StarJam plans to establish its Talent Expansion Programme in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to provide the opportunity for significant numbers of the young people with disabilities to become role models and leaders within their peer groups as well as providing confidence, compassion and inspiration to the communities they live in.
All young New Zealanders with a disability deserve the opportunity to be the best they can be. StarJam successfully demonstrates that young people with disabilities are an untapped resource as contributors and also entrepreneurs in our communities. Given the huge shortfall in talent that New Zealand faces in the future we surely need to adopt an
approach that ensures that we as a society, tap the full creative capabilities of every single New Zealand citizen. To do this we must invest both in the people themselves and in building a supportive inclusive infrastructure that fosters and encourages creativity.
StarJam is an investment in social capital that will generate a significant social return in fostering community where able and disabled alike can work together, network and collaborate and to meet and talk about their work and work together for the creation of excellence.