The StarJam Blog

Jamie McDell Visits StarJam

Image courtesy of Ben Shivas

It was an inspirational afternoon for both young disabled people and a Kiwi artist at a community event last month.

New Zealand pop singer Jamie McDell visited a StarJam monthly meeting as a guest artist, but felt she got just as much out of it as the young people.

StarJam run performance based workshops and create a platform for young people with disabilities to showcase their talents.

“You get a bit caught up in the industry sometimes,” Ms McDell says. “It’s nice to come back where there are people who are just passionate about music… and it’s just kind of a reminder why I got into it in the first place.”

Hannah Kerse, who was born with cerebral palsy, described it as “the most amazing experience ever”.  The 18-year-old’s dream is to become a singer-songwriter and says Ms McDell is an “incredibly” good role model.

“She writes honest songs and songs that actually mean something, and they’re relatable,” says the Dairy Flat resident.

Ms McDell finds it “insane” when people are star-struck around her. “I’m no better than anyone here. They’re doing the same thing as I do getting up and performing.”

“To come here today and to see the enthusiasm, not just from the performers but the audience… society has got a lot to learn from a community like this,” she says.

Mary Ansell, the Chief Executive of StarJam, says having musical guests is very special to all involved with the charity.

“Meeting someone you look up to who shares a love of the same things as you doesn’t happen that often. It is so rewarding to be able to give the Jammers that opportunity,” Ms Ansell says. “Jamie placed a beautiful photo of her and one of our Jammers on her Facebook page with a lovely message which can only help grow the awareness of StarJam.”

Ms McDell, who has recently finished recording her second album, says she was ‘Jammed’. “I’ll be back for sure.”

Posted in: 2014, StarJam News

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Hamilton dad runs for son

A Hamilton dad is running a marathon to raise money for his son – while also supporting over 300 young people across New Zealand.

Chas Bickford-Smith is aiming to raise $3000 by running the Auckland Marathon in November for the charity StarJam.

The IT consultant’s son 13-year-old Josh has been a part of StarJam, a ‘Jammer’, for four years.

The charity runs performance based workshops and creates a platform for young people with disabilities to showcase their talents.

“Josh is so excited to go to StarJam every week,” Mr Bickford-Smith says. “I think it’s a great thing for children with disabilities to do, so it will be nice to put something back into it.”

The experienced runner, who has participated in the London marathon three times and the Iron Man twice, says “It would be nice to raise money to keep it going and maybe encourage more people to come along.”

Chief Executive of StarJam Mary Ansell says it is “a dream come true” for Mr Bickford-Smith to fundraise money for the charity.

“Having our Jammer’s parent support StarJam in this way demonstrates the value they place on StarJam in their child’s life but more so the passion they feel for StarJam,” Ms Ansell says.

The marathon will also provide an opportunity for the Jammers to perform.

 “Where possible we like to involve our Jammers in our events… which they love. Jammers may also be performing at our gazebo which is helping StarJam grow for them and for other would-be-Jammers,” she says.

 The money raised will go towards growing the capacity for more young people to be involved with StarJam.

 Ms Ansell says “We are committed to growing the number of workshops so we can provide other “would- be Jammers” on our waiting lists the opportunity to experience StarJam and to show the world what they can do rather than what they can’t.”

 To sponsor Chas and support StarJam, go to

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StarJam Volunteers Winning Awards!

StarJam Wins Youth Category at 2014 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards

The 2014 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards were presented on Monday 16th June to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of volunteer’s in the public health sector.

Award winners ranged from volunteers supporting young people with cancer, to the dedicated team supporting in medical emergencies. Sitting in the front two rows, the StarJam volunteers were easily distinguished as some of the youngest faces in the crowd. They were delighted to be presented with the award for Outstanding Achievement by a Youth Team of Volunteers.

StarJam empowers young people with disabilities, known as ‘Jammers’, through performance opportunities here in Wellington and Nationwide. “We are so grateful to have this acknowledgement for what our volunteers give to the community, and the generosity of heart with which they give it”, said StarJam Regional Programmes Coordinator, Genevieve Krefft.

“The value of what our volunteers do really shines through in the words of the parents.” said Krefft. “I spoke to one mother last Wednesday who told me StarJam is the only place her son can go to ‘just be’. Another father said previous to StarJam, his son was a passenger in his life, and StarJam has helped to put him in the driver’s seat.”

Five attended the ceremony to represent the 15 volunteers who assist at StarJam workshops every week in the greater Wellington region. The volunteers assist in musical workshops (singing, dancing, drumming or guitar) by supporting the young people with disabilities aged 6-25, to engage with the other Jammers, the tutor and the volunteers. The volunteers encourage, guide and celebrate their Jammers, and help to create an environment where they feel safe, loved, and valued.

Emma Wollum, 23 years old, has been volunteering for StarJam for just under two years in a dance workshop in Newtown. “Volunteering for StarJam is an incredibly rewarding, humbling experience – I love being a witness to watching Jammers flourish.” said Wollum.

They were delighted to be included in a diverse group of people each working to serve their community: “I found the Awards incredibly affirming and inspiring” said Wollum, “It just makes me want to go out and do more.”


For more information please contact Genevieve Krefft

Contact Details  

Genevieve Krefft

  • Phone: 021782866

About StarJam –

StarJam is a super-charity which creates national and international limelight opportunities for young people with disabilities. Known as “Jammers”, StarJam’s young people gain respect, confidence, empowerment, new friends, new hope and new purpose within a fun and inclusive atmosphere. Our belief is that “wildly positive change” affects not just them and their families but their peer groups and the wider community in their perception of young people with disabilities. There are 30 performance workshop programmes spread throughout Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch each week in singing, dancing, drumming and guitar. StarJam has been acknowledged in seventeen different awards programmes since 2007.

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We love Sara Bareilles.  Especially her awesome hit single Brave.  So much so that we decided to create our own version of the song and our own version of the video clip.  Check it out below and be sure to share it with your friends and family.  Be Brave and Give Now to help our Jammers become stars!

Posted in: 2014, StarJam News

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Sleep Under the Stars for StarJam

Sleep Under the Stars for StarJam

Have you ever wanted to “Sleep Under the Stars”?

Ever thought about trekking to Australia’s Top End? 

Want to escape somewhere during the NZ Winter? 

Or simply wanting to help those in need but don’t know how?

World Expeditions is hosting a fantastic charity challenge for StarJam to Australia’s Top End at the end of June; an experience unlike any other. Spectacular wildlife, wilderness trekking, stunning gorges and waterfalls, meeting community elders and exploring their land, and staying in exclusive semi-permanent campsites are just some of the amazing opportunities you will get to experience.

If you can’t get away, why not share this opportunity with family and friends, including those that live across the ditch in Australia.

For further information or to book your place on this great trip please email or call 0800 350 354.

Check out this website for more info (



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Exciting Events Coming in 2014

Join in & have fun!

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.  (Betty Williams)

2014 is already well underway and here at StarJam there are lots of exciting events and campaigns planned for the year ahead.

Keep your eyes peeled for further information about:

  • Jump Jam 4 StarJam

  • The Great Auckland Bed Race

  • Run for StarJam in the Auckland Marathon

  • World Expeditions trip for StarJam

“We are so excited about all of these events and campaigns.  It’s going to be a great year”, says Mary Ansell (StarJam’s CEO).

Fans of the show New Zealand’s Got Talent will have seen ex-Jammer; JamBassador and workshop tutor Renee Maurice winning the grand final.  We are so proud of Renee and this amazing achievement and will be sure to keep you all posted on what she does next.

Stay tuned for more info 🙂

Auckland Jammers the Magic Movers perform at a gig for the Business Network International Success evening and wow their audience




For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Mary Ansell 021 1988000

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