There was an abundance of smiles, exuberant singing, and energetic dance moves at StarJam’s end of year concert, which took place last month.
With 35 jammers taking to the stage to showcase their skills, it was a concert unlike any of those before it, with no audience able to attend due to Covid restrictions.
But that didn’t stop the energy beaming off the stage from Jammers, who range in age from 6 to 25, as well as a few ‘alumni’.
StarJam is a not-for-profit where young people with disabilities unleash their full potential through the magic of music, dance and performance.
Weekly workshops are held, culminating with the end of year concert for Jammers to wow audiences.
While there was no audience to wow in person this year, with the concert filmed, a highlights video is now available to view online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQWcqS26TsA&ab_channel=StarJammersNZ
StarJam’s Tauranga Programmes Coordinator, Muriel Christonai, says viewers of the concert video have much to look forward to.
“Overall, you’ll see tonnes of big smiles! More specifically, you’ll see some great moves, including really energetic breakdancing to Bruno Mars songs and others.
“You’ll hear some proud and loud singing along to the theme of Moana ‘How Far I’ll Go’ and some exuberant ‘Shake It Off’, Taylor Swift style.
“There’s a very cool dance medley that includes Bob Marley’s ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ song performed with sign language.
“There’s also a fun solo dance from young Freddy, and a tutor and volunteer who look like his backing dancers, and a moving rendition of our National Anthem by Bishop. It’s full of treats!”
Christonai explains that being able to hold the concert, despite having no audience, meant the world to all the Jammers.
“After having to resort to online workshops earlier in the year, and seeing other major cities in New Zealand locked down, it’s a small miracle that we could go ahead on the day.
“The concert really is the highlight of the Jammers’ StarJam year; it’s their moment to showcase all that they have learned and achieved in each term. It’s a proud moment for them, and their camaraderie is so inspiring to witness.”
15-year-old Jammer Fergus is a dancer and has been part of StarJam since 2015. He says there is lots to love about StarJam and being part of the concert.
“I love dancing – it makes me feel excited. I love singing to High School Musical. I like seeing my friends. The concert was the best day. I liked being on the stage and dancing.”
Fergus’ mother Sandra says StarJam has brought joy, laughter, friendship and confidence into Fergus’ life.
“He has so much fun at StarJam; it makes him smile, and he just loves the opportunities it has given him to perform and be with his buddies.
“Fergus absolutely loves the opportunity to dress up and perform. He was so excited he was going to be on stage, dress up and have his makeup done.
“He was looking forward to dancing with his group and these opportunities have given him so much happiness and confidence within himself.
“Thank you for all that you do for our young people StarJam. It is an amazing, supportive, network of friends and family that holds such a special place in our lives.
“The tutors and volunteers are so amazing and bring so much dedication and enthusiasm to their roles and our young people’s lives. We truly appreciate them.”
TECT has supported StarJam since 2017 with over $20,000 in funding, with $6,000 of that approved for this year’s operational costs.
Christonai says it means a lot to the charity to have a long-standing local trust supporting them here in Tauranga.
“We couldn’t do what we do without TECT’s support, and for this we are deeply grateful.
“StarJam has a hugely positive impact not just on the Jammers but on their parents and carers too – it gives them a rare window of ‘me time’ in the middle of their week, and reassures them that their young people are able to participate in an extra-curricular activity where they are fully welcome, their needs are met, who they are is celebrated and most of all, they get to have a huge amount of fun. Thank you TECT!”