Sysmex New Zealand staff received an early Christmas present this month with an inspirational concert from StarJam. The young StarJam performers (or ‘Jammers’ as they are known) put on a special lunchtime show of singing, drumming and dancing and encouraged audience participation – much to the delight of the extroverts in the audience.
StarJam is a non-profit organisation that aims to create opportunities for young people with mental or physical disabilities to gain social and emotional skills that help their learning, and build positive behaviour and emotional wellbeing. Through StarJam’s workshops and the medium of music and dance, Jammers are able to explore their talents, and develop confidence that carries over into other areas of their life, in some cases even helping them take steps towards independence by finding a job or moving out of home.
Anyone with disabilities aged between 6 and 25 is welcome to join the StarJam performance programmes. “No-one is asked about their disability or what their disability may be,” said Mary Ansell, StarJam CEO. “We are a proactively inclusive organisation and focus less on what someone can’t do and more on what they can do.”
As a fully self-funded organisation, StarJam relies completely on donations from the public to help support their workshops and regional programmes and as part of their fund-raising initiatives, they have put on concerts for conferences, and events with visiting overseas dignitaries. It is hoped their new corporate team building performance package will also assist with the fund-raising required to expand into other regions across New Zealand which currently have no access to their programmes and services.
It was an absolutely amazing experience interacting with the Jammers and the concert proved to be a big hit with everyone in attendance. “It was great to hear what StarJam is all about from Mary and then the parents,” said one Sysmex staff member. “But the jewel in the crown was hearing from the jammers themselves. Disability can be a confronting thing for people who do not deal with it on a regular basis, and it’s absolutely wonderful what StarJam is doing to break down barriers and in such an enjoyable way!”