StarJam is a not for profit that provides transformative opportunities for young people with disabilities aged 6 to 25 years through experiencing confidence, empowerment, inclusion and being valued through the joy of music and performance within their communities.
StarJam is about taking the 'dis' out of disability and creating a movement for positive change that champions acceptance in New Zealand.
StarJam CEO Mary Ansell explains that music is used as a catalyst, “to shine a light on what our young people (our ‘Jammers’) can do”.
“We welcome young people from across the disability spectrum - taking our workshops into their neighbourhoods, offering dance, singing, and drumming and bringing our youth into a world where they count: their music, their ideas while inspiring the belief that anything is possible,” says Mary.
The weekly workshops are held during the school term from 6.30pm till 8.00pm and become families where Jammers learn to give and receive praise, uncovering their unique value and contributions.
“Diversity within the workshops introduces Jammers to others with both similar and different lives, teaching the concept of community and their place within it,” explains Mary. “The workshops are ‘Jammer driven’ and are fun, with the Jammers learning a minimum of two performance pieces a term.”
Each workshop requires 2-3 volunteers (aged 18+). Volunteers just need to be available every week during school terms to hang out with the Jammers and have FUN! Volunteers do not need experience as training will be given.
Research and the transformations witnessed in the workshops confirms that music is a medium that positively changes lives. "We see Jammers able to express their first ever thoughts, ideas, emotions, to sustain physical activity, to memorise routines, to interact warmly and positively with their peers, discovering freedom through their creative selves,” Mary explains.
“Molly loves singing, dancing, Michael Jackson and Elvis however finding an outlet to fuel her interests and accommodate her multiple physical and intellectual disabilities was impossible. She always felt a burden in mainstream groups and was very lonely. Since beginning StarJam, Molly is a different girl, excited and proud to call herself a Jammer alongside her new friends.”
The Hamilton End of Year Concert, on Sunday November 25th at Southwell School starting at 5.00pm, is the culmination of a year's worth of efforts from the young Jammers with the support of their wonderful tutors and volunteers. “The audience will be swept up in an evening filled with sensational singing, dazzling dancing, dynamic drumming and masterful musical mash-ups, enabling our young people to perform on stage for their friends, family and the wider community,” says Mary.
A StarJam show never fails to entertain, inspire, and surprise. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2018/starjam-hamilton-end-of-year-concert-2018/hamilton
As a not-for-profit organisation, StarJam relies very heavily on funding from many sources. Workshops are free for the Jammers to attend and donations are very much appreciated to enable this to continue. A regular donation or one off donation can be set up https://www.starjam.org/get-involved/donate/make-a-single-donation/