FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Mary Ansell 021 1988000 email@example.com