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StarJam Founder Hands over Reins to Successor




StarJam – a Kiwi success story hands over the reins.

With the organisation on a high, StarJam’s departing CEO and Founder, Julie Bartlett says handing over the reins couldn’t be timed better.

“Eleven years ago, I had a vision – that StarJam could change people’s perceptions about Kiwi kids with disabilities.  I wanted everyone to see their potential.”

Started in Bartlett’s spare bedroom in November 2002 StarJam now runs 30 performance programmes in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch for young people with disabilities (known as Jammers). Dozens of stage productions, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of Jammers later, StarJam’s success is obvious.

“We’ve got Jammers, ex-Jammers turned tutors and JamBassadors on TV, and winning awards – it’s deeply gratifying, and a signal that the community is grown up and ready to hand on,” says Bartlett.

Fans of the show New Zealand’s Got Talent will have seen ex-Jammer; JamBassador and workshop tutor Renee Maurice singing in the finals.

Through StarJam’s programme Jammers become empowered, often going on to become leaders themselves.

Bartlett points to other success stories. Jammers Mary Fisher and Olivia Shivas who is also a JamBassador and another Jammer turned JamBassador and tutor Loren Corbett, all of whom are finalists in the TVNZ Attitude Awards.

Loren Corbett says” I would be a totally different person if Julie Bartlett had not put her life aside to ensure so many young New Zealanders with disabilities experience the joy, love and acceptance they deserve.”

Incoming CEO Mary Ansell says it is success stories like these that drive her.

“Julie’s work here has been wonderful. This is just something we see every day at StarJam – kids blossom.”

Ansell feels “deeply honoured” to be chosen as Bartlett’s successor and is inspired to carry on the good work.

“I feel lucky to be part of helping Jammers reach their potential. It’s not just about the kids who go on to win awards – there are small, wonderful triumphs that happen all the time”.

Ansell dreams of reducing the waiting lists by establishing more programmes throughout New Zealand.  She will use her experience in corporate leadership roles and in her own business.

Ansell’s personal connection to Kiwi kids with disabilities makes this new role even more gratifying. Her dearly loved nephew was born with spina bifida, and died at age 19.

“Benn was a larger than life. His positive attitude to life always encouraged me,” Ansell declares. “He would have loved StarJam.”




Julie Bartlett, Mary Ansell, Renee Maurice, Olivia Shivas, Loren Corbett and Mary Fisher are available for comment.


For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Julie Bartlett, 09 523 3500,  021 782 752, or

Mary Ansell 021 1988000


Posted in: 2013, In the Media

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Award-winning Kiwi charity launches international crowd funding campaign



5 August 2013

$100K Needed to Save the Day

Award-winning Kiwi charity launches international crowd funding campaign

Award-winning charity StarJam is looking to the web to raise urgently needed funds to help it out of a financial squeeze. The Kiwi charity that empowers young people with disabilities is launching a campaign to raise $100,000 through international crowd funding website Indiegogo.

The two-minute video featuring Simon Dallow and 20 of StarJam’s children will spearhead the campaign which will launch on Monday 5th August and run for a month.

Celebrating its 10th birthday last year, StarJam has changed the lives of thousands of young people with disabilities over this time, with 300 disabled children and young people (known as Jammers) currently involved in weekly performance workshops in singing, dancing, guitar and drumming across four centres, Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

However funding cuts and increasing demand for the charity dollar have left StarJam a $100,000 short this year and in need of additional funds.

StarJam founder and CEO Julie Bartlett, recipient of countless awards including NEXT’s Woman of the Year for 2012, says we believe people will want to help out if they understand that we are living hand to mouth.  We need to provide certainty for our children and their families.

“People often think StarJam has good financial reserves – the sparkly hats (from the $2 shop), the celebrity involvement, the impressive stage productions, all create this misconception. The truth is we rely entirely on the generosity of funding bodies and people who love what we do.

“We currently have places for 300 young people involved in our weekly programmes, at a cost of about $2,000 each per year. This goes towards things like venue hire, reimbursing volunteer expenses, training for tutors and volunteers and purchasing musical instruments.  And the programmes’ waiting lists get growing.

“If we reach $100,000, we can keep operating at our current levels. Without it we cannot guarantee our programmes will continue into 2014.  

Over the years StarJam has enlisted the involvement of international and local celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Eva Longoria, Tom Cruise, Coldplay, Rachel Hunter and Sir Peter Jackson.

Julie says 15 celebrities including Sir Graham Henry, Simon Dallow and Shane Cortese, Greg Murphy, Kate Hawkesby and Michael Galvin have lent their support to the campaign, offering ‘perks’ for larger donations.

A $25 donation will pay for Jammer’s starter pack with the donor being acknowledged on StarJam’s website and Facebook.   A $2,000 donation will fund one lucky Jammer through a whole year, with the donor receiving a personalized thank you video from one of the celebrities supporting the campaign.  While a $20,000 donation helps 10 lucky Jammers for a year and gets the donor ten personalized thank you videos from the campaign’s celebrity list.

Julie says the charity is in the process of setting up new fundraising programmes which will in time yield financial stability.  “Our families can’t imagine what life would be like without StarJam in their children’s lives. It means so much to them when their children find friends, often for the first time, and a new-found confidence from being in the performance programmes. They definitely don’t want that to stop.”

For more info:

«     The Save StarJam Campaign info is here on Indiegogo (frequently updated)

«     Here is a two minute showreel

«     A StarJam flashmob viewed by 70,000

«     Queen of Hearts is a song written and sung by 11 Jammers

«     Here is a 6 min showreel about a road tour in USA with clips of Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito and Julie Andrews.


Ends –

 For more information, images or interviews please contact:

Julie Bartlett, 09 523 3500,   021 782 752,

StarJam is a charity which creates national and international limelight opportunities for young people with disabilities. Known as “Jammers”, StarJam kids 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 kids with disabilities. There are 30 performance workshop programmes spread throughout Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch each week in song, dance, drumming and guitar. StarJam has been acknowledged in fifteen different awards programmes since 2007.


Posted in: 2013, In the Media, StarJam News

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StarJam CEO receives Queens Birthday Honour

Tuesday, 4th June 2013




StarJam CEO and Founder Julie Bartlett has been appointed a Member of the NZ Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced yesterday.

This coincides with the announcement that Bartletthas accepted the honour of becoming Patron of the charity and will step aside from her day to day CEO responsibilities after ten years at the helm.

Bartlettworked in a variety of roles in various charities prior to founding StarJam. She observed how charities focus on providing a myriad of services to different types of disadvantaged people but rarely provide the opportunity for their clients to make their mark by contributing to the community.

Inspired by her brother who had Down Syndrome,Bartlettcreated a platform where young people with disabilities and celebrities shared the same stage. In professional stage shows, StarJam’s young people are given lead roles and celebrities often supporting ones.

Bartlett, who will take up the role of Patron on August 31, says she has learnt not to underestimate anyone. “I never used to value being able to walk, talk, and see before. By hearing the stories of hundreds of children with disabilities and their families, my life has been enriched. I am truly humbled by receiving both these honours.”

Posted in: 2013, In the Media, StarJam News

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StarJam Jammer given special scholarship

Last night Hon Tariana Turia presented StarJam Jammer Olivia Shivas with an Attitude Award Trust Communication Scholarship at the 2012 Attitude Awards. The scholarship will go towards Olivia’s university studies. Congratulations Olivia!

Here’s Hon Tariana Turia’s speech:

‘Yesterday the red carpet was laid out in Wellington. But tonight, here at the Viaduct  Events Centre, we have our own extravaganza of excellence – a room filled with superstars, with champions; with heroes and trail-blazers.

I want to firstly acknowledge all those possible for making our Sunday mornings magical. Attitude Pictures consistently represents the experiences of people with disabilities in a way which engages the public; educating, inspiring and challenging us all in the space of thirty minutes.

It is an outstanding initiative and I want to congratulate you for the difference you are making in the great sea of public opinion.

This event builds on your precedent, in creating a Gala Awards Night to celebrate achievement and recognise the diversity of people who are working towards a more inclusive society.

I absolutely endorse the intention of these awards, to raise awareness, and to create a new norm by putting focus on the achievements and triumphs of the one in five New Zealanders who live with a disability.

Tonight I have been given the honour of announcing the inaugural Attitudes Awards Trust Communications Scholarship.

This is an exciting example of collaboration, in which a major media company is offering a one year work contract; with a view to increasing the numbers of people with disabilities active in the communications professions including the media.

We all know that an increase in disabled people who are visible in the media will help promote an attitude change amongst the wider community.

This will have huge spinoffs regarding the employment of disabled people; as well have challenging any negative attitudes and behaviours that may still be lingering.

I am totally committed towards doing what I can as Minister, to enable people with disabilities to lead fuller, more independent lives.

And in this respect, I am so proud to acknowledge the scholarship sponsor, the Attitude Awards Trust and its trustees, and to speak briefly about the very first person to win this scholarship.

Olivia Shivas has always wanted to be a reporter; based on her belief that people with disabilities are not represented well in the mainstream media.

Olivia’s pathway to this night has been built upon hundreds of big moments and thousands of small ones. She has demonstrated leadership and success in her schooling; she is a Queens Award recipient; a StarJam Jambassador and now a student of the Bachelor of Communication studies at AUT.

But there is one story in particular, that really made her shine.

Earlier this year, in her role in the Velvet Vocals – a workshop run by StarJam – she came up with a big idea. All the girls in the Velvet Vocals listen to Taylor Swift and sing her songs. So when Olivia found out the superstar herself was coming to town, she got cracking.

She filmed a video of the group; edited it, and sent it off to Taylor Swift’s managers. After many weeks they received a reply – Miss Swift would like to meet the Velvet Vocals in person.

Olivia’s words told me everything about having the right attitude. She said

“Having a disability, I sometimes become so used to being the one that needs help. Whether it’s reaching something on a high shelf or getting help to push myself up a steel hill. And sometimes I do get embarrassed by it. What I got most out of a being a leader that was that I was the one helping someone else. Someone needed my help and expertise. It was incredibly rewarding knowing that my help and leadership achieved our goal of meeting Taylor Swift”.

It was such a wonderful glimpse into the life of a young woman – not yet twenty- and yet capable of gaining an audience with a celebrity; fulfilling a project goal to the last degree; and inspiring, motivating and including the wider group at every stage of the experience.

I know that Olivia will go on to make a profound difference in all our lives. She oozes oomph; she exudes passion and determination and I wish her a most brilliant career.’

Posted in: 2012, In the Media, Press Releases, StarJam News

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StarJam’s 10 year birthday celebration a success

Last night thousands of New Zealanders were part of LiveJam, a performance showcase which linked over 200 young people with disabilities across four cities via a live internet stream and video conferencing.

LiveJam was the first of its kind event run by StarJam, a charity dedicated to empowering young people with disabilities.

The Live Aid-style show was held to mark StarJam’s 10th birthday.

The heart-warming two-hour show was hosted by TVNZ news anchor Simon Dallow and reporter Matt McLean with special guest performances by Ray Woolf, Adeaze, Shane Cortese, Megan Alatini and Ben Lummis.

Dame Susan Devoy, Silver Fern Irene Van Dyk and London 2012 Paralympics Gold medalist Mary Fisher also took to the stage during the inspirational event.

Held at the Auckland Museum Events Centre and the Wellington Town Hall, with satellite party areas run from JamZones for communities in Christchurch and Hamilton, LiveJam was a large-scale showcase of song, dance and instrumental performances.

StarJam founder and CEO Julie Bartlett says LiveJam was an unprecedented success with a sell-out performance in Auckland and a buzzing atmosphere in the Wellington Town Hall.

“LiveJam was the biggest show we’ve put on yet. The children, known as Jammers, and celebrities performed shoulder to shoulder, showing us how music can unite all. Simon Dallow and Matt McLean provided the perfect links between the cities, Jammers and the audience.”

LiveJam took a look back at 10 years of StarJam, which has seen more than 1000 young Kiwis with disabilities go through its performance workshop programmes. StarJam empowers its young performers, allowing them to gain confidence, respect and make new friends – all in a non-competitive and supportive environment.

Coinciding with LiveJam was the launch of StarJam’s first-ever text to donate facility, in which New Zealanders can donate funds to help get more young people into the programmes. Text ‘Jam’ to 3181 to make an instant donation.

With no government funding, StarJam relies entirely on grants and donations.

LiveJam is still available for viewing on

Posted in: 2012, In the Media, Press Releases, StarJam News

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