Bronwen’s pregnancy went full term, there were no issues, and the home birth went smoothly. By midday the following day, the mood had dramatically changed. At his 12-hour check baby Jaxon was diagnosed with a Grade 4 brain bleed and his breathing was deteriorating. Living an hour out of town made the trip to NICU a concern for the family.
The relaxed start to life had turned rocky, and surgery was imminent when Jaxon was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. With hospital visits 3 times a week, even for a seasoned community care nurse like Bronwen, life became very surreal. Jaxon started having seizures at 6 months old, he was trialled on a considerable number of medications, and Bronwen and the family were finding it tough. A lobectomy was performed but Bronwen found the lack of positivity and hope, when it came to disability, was debilitating.
Bronwen and Jaxon’s initial exposure to the Champion Centre began in the Baby Programme when Jaxon was 3 months old, and from that moment on, she was showered with genuine hope and delight at all that Jaxon could do. Bronwen states “It was all about celebrating our successes, and the peer support group was as important to me, as therapy was to Jaxon. It was so special to see the kids together and talk to the mums and dads experiencing what I was experiencing”.
The family headed to Auckland for further surgery late 2021 and Bronwen is relieved Jaxon has been ‘seizure free’ for 40 weeks. She adds she was also delighted with the Centre physio, Deborah’s, visit to the ward while Jaxon was recovering. “She was in Auckland on holiday, visiting her daughter and she took time out to check in on us, I was so grateful for that” exclaims Bronwen.
We always want to ensure we meet all our families needs, and Bronwen assures us “Yes, the Champion Centre is amazing, there has never been any judgement, we know you are on our side, it feels like a partnership filled with empowerment and empathy. And the advocacy is just what we need when it all feels a bit much”. She also adds, “Even as a nurse I didn’t know about the Centre, but I do know we wouldn’t be where we are without it”.
Bronwen then goes on to talk about the centre-based approach, after many experiences navigating multiple professionals and providers appointments. “I love that the Centre staff are not telling me different things, it’s obvious that they meet and collaborate and there’s a comforting level of transparency”.
And what does Jaxon love about the Champion Centre? “He enjoys having fun, the physiotherapy, movement has been excellent for us, and we are grateful to have the option of hydrotherapy. Jaxon just loves the music, during lockdown we had access to the remote music sessions as part of our routine, and my 8-year-old daughter always joined in”
“We are optimistic for Jaxon’s future. He has just started talking which is a miracle!”
I love reading the ‘Graduate Stories’ about former Centre children living their best lives”, shares Bronwen.
And finally, she notes, “I don’t even know how we would have got through without the team. The Champion Centre team are an extension of my family and are my support network. They offer me hope, and if you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything”
A big thanks to Bronwen for sharing her time at the Champion Centre with us.
For those of you who know the Champion Centre well, or have just paid a visit, you’ll know that our décor and parts of our environment are more than a little ‘tired’. We therefore couldn’t believe our good fortune when a friend from the Champion Foundation Trust introduced the team from Brooksfield. They had been told that our rooms were in need of a little TLC and were keen to help out.
Oliver Hickman and Vincent Holloway are the Directors of Brooksfield, a high quality Christchurch townhouse company. From the moment they walked through our doors it was evident they ‘got’ us, understanding the importance of our work and wanting to help. Their energy was refreshing, and they were keen to truly understand what would make a difference to us and our environment.
Together we developed a plan to renovate and refresh our programme and play rooms.
Phase 1 is now complete and we have new cabinetry and sinks in one play room and programme space, with fresh paint, wall coverings, flooring, ceiling tiles, and picture boards. We also have beautiful new curtains and blinds. Check out some of the awesome cabinetry and paint work below.
Phase 2 will see the amazing work continue with a make-over of our Baby Room and additional play room and programme space.
Olly and Vinny, with the help of their Project Manager Hamish have coordinated with their contractors and partners to help deliver this project. It’s been an act of huge generosity by a company keen to ‘give back’ to the community.
Every person involved in the project has been amazing, listening, paying attention to detail, and working to deadlines during the holidays to ensure the work is finished by the time children returned for the start of the term.
On behalf of children, families and staff, thank-you Brooksfield!
Farewell to Karon Storr
We were sad to farewell Karon from her role as Funding Coordinator in April. Karon worked tirelessly to raise ‘the difference’ to help our programmes thrive. Thank-you to Karon, and all the best for her new endeavours.
Welcome to Tracey Horsham
Tracey joined the Champion Centre in July as our Fundraising and Marketing Coordinator. With experience with the Royal British Legion we were delighted to have Tracey join our team.
If you have any fundraising ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Tracey on email@example.com
It's always exciting to return to the Champion Centre for the start of a new year. 2022 was no different. Staff returned for our annual Training Week in late January with renewed energy. A very strong team, committed to their mahi, they are the Champion Centre's greatest asset. This year we welcomed three new staff members: Dave and Ashleigh, both Physiotherapists, and Rachael, a Music Therapist. We are fortunate to have appointed such highly skilled and experienced staff to our team.
But it's the return of children and whānau that we really look forward to most of all. We love welcoming families back, seeing children who have grown a little over the holidays and reconnecting with everyone.
For 2022 we have made some small changes to our programmes with the introduction of a group session alongside our usual individual sessions. You can read more about the group sessions in this edition of Connect.
Families, staff and supporters make up our wonderful Champion Centre community. We are particularly grateful to Karl, Teddy's Dad, for sharing his story with us. Have a read, it's inspiring. We are also grateful to Brown Kiwi Ltd for providing our stunning new sign on Burwood Road. No-one will miss us now.
And finally, we couldn't do what we do without continued donations, big or small. Check out how you can help us below.
Wendy and Lauren
It was with much excitement and anticipation that the Tawharu-Rosewarne household welcomed the birth of their 3rd child, Theodore.
Teddy arrived a little early, and by about 5 months of age Jo and Karl had begun to identify some differences in his development, when compared with his brother and sister. The lactose intolerance was one, but it appeared Teddy was in constant pain, and initially they were checking the usual boxes of hungry, tired, and frustrated, before it become apparent this was something more.
Being pushed back into the hospital system to seek some answers immediately flagged concerns, and many questions, about Teddy's diagnosis, and his future. After a paediatric referral Karl and Jo were made aware of the intervention programme through the Champion Centre. Jo had heard of the Champion Centre through her studies to become an Early Childhood Educator, but Karl had no prior knowledge of the Centre's existence, before his initial visit. He informs us he wasn't that keen on meeting new people and, in particular, "I wasn't fond of meeting 'professionals', especially when they are telling me stuff I don't want to hear". He adds, "I thought they would just tell me what to expect from Teddy's diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, I really thought we would be 'just a number in the system', but what I experienced was polar opposite". In the beginning, Karl felt the personal connection the team offered was much more important than the information they delivered. "I've found I will listen if I feel they respect me and my opinion, and it was obvious everyone did".
When asked what parts of the programme Teddy enjoys and how they have noticed the impact of the Centre's early intervention on Teddy's development, Karl's eyes light up, "It's all about the 'meaningful play' whether that's play sessions with Lisa or reading books with Jenny. Physio with Deborah was crucial to me, through the knowledge and tactics shared by her, it helps me as a father, to push and improve Teddys physical abilities. He's just beginning to expand his interest in music, and I also found speech with Carol another very important learning tool for both me and Teddy. It's learning while he's having fun".
And the impact on the family and work life? For Jo, her focus remained on completing her studies and her current role as an ECE Teacher at Karanga Mai, the first teen parent school in the S.I. and for Karl it was a 100% change in his 'career path'. Since Teddy's birth and diagnosis, Karl has hung up his builder's tool belt and opted to be the stay-at-home parent. Since his unanticipated immersion into the realms of early intervention, he is embarking on his own studies in special education. Karl exclaims, "This was brought on by being inspired by the work of the Champion Centre, I want to pass on knowledge from my lived experience, and be a part of other children's achievements"
We wondered how important it's been, (as one of the few regular male caregivers), to be able to connect with other families at the Centre? "Really, really good" Karl insists, "There's an instant affinity through common ground, and chatting opens up conversations that can be helpful, I hope it's helped others to talk about Teddy" And what about your shared hopes for Teddy's future, are you more confident now? "A 1,000,000%!!" he replied. "Our outlook has changed dramatically, you start with fear and, like a black dot on a white page, that's what you focus on, but over time with knowledge and support you see more than the dot, to the point where the good outweighs the bad, but you need to do that in a safe space, and the Champion Centre feels like a safe space"
Karl continues "We want Teddy to keep thriving, I want him to be able to do what he wants to do, with little resistance from me, or his body, and with the Champion Centre, I feel it's not all on my shoulders"
With much thanks to Karl Rosewarne for sharing Teddy's first chapter with us.
Relationships are the active ingredients of the environment. They allow humans to learn, grow and develop. Some relationships are with primary caregivers and close loved ones. Others are with teachers and mentors. Many are with peers and friends. All relationships influence how we understand the world and ourselves. Whilst every child has a genetically-driven component of identity, what a child’s potential will be is inextricably linked to their relational network.
Children learn many things from each other that they cannot learn as easily from adults. They learn how to share, to engage in turn-taking, to give and receive, to wait, to take the needs of others into account and to manage their impulses. They learn how to be a good friend, and what makes a friendship succeed or fail. It is only with other children, that a child can learn how to manage a birthday party, when they are not the one being celebrated. Or to understand that when someone is blowing bubbles, other children do not appreciate when you stomp on theirs. Or that helping a friend who is struggling with a task is a good way for them to feel trust.
Opportunities for children to interact, such as in groups, offer this myriad of scenarios that build both relationship skills and enjoyment of life. Amazingly, these ‘natural’ play-based occurrences also enhance the foundation of development. When a child is managing the complexity of the relational environment, their own thinking, social-emotional skills, regulation, motor development and more understandings are all being strengthened.
Finally, groups of children interacting in the preschool years sets the stage for positive transition to, and participation in, the school setting. Learning to share the teacher’s attention, to wait whilst other children engage, to feel confident in activities with peers, to master skills of peer connection and acceptance, and to become excited about learning with others all build a foundational platform.
For these reasons, we are now offering groups at the Champion Centre as a component of our weekly programmes. Unlike groups that may naturally occur in preschools or your local playground, groups at the Champion Centre are purposeful scaffolding of development with active observation and intervention components by therapists. Groups are created with the developmental needs and next steps of children in mind. Activities are based on what therapists have noticed will help children master skills and apply energy toward appropriate learning opportunities. Groups are taken by all key therapy staff, so children will be exposed to cognitive, gross motor, fine motor, sensory, communication and musical developmental learning whilst participating in small groups with peers. Groups will also incorporate key social-emotional skills such as impulse control, self-regulation, and sharing.
As we all know, play is a child’s work and a child’s world. Through play a child can communicate, create meaning, and integrate body, mind and connection with others. Through play in groups, children take this learning to a new level, integrating the play experience with the complex, nuanced and vital relational networks in which they live, love and grow.
Rewardhub is a website where more than 150 leading brands will REWARD us with FREE donations (at no cost to you) when you shop online and are signed up to support us. It’s easy to shop and includes special discount codes on fashion, beauty, entertainment, travel, utilities, money, homewares, food, drink and much more. To learn more and sign up to our page, please visit https://rewardhub.co.nz/the-champion-centre
At the Centre, our belief is that every child, regardless of physical, intellectual, or social capacity has the right to be educated, to learn and to grow. Those most at risk are children who face a different path, as a result of disabilities and developmental delays, and their ability to thrive hinges on specialist intervention. The journey for these families and their children is unplanned and often challenging. The Champion Centre team of specialists offer children the best possible start to their lives.
Every year we work with over 200 whānau and their tamariki, as part of our intensive therapy programme. The total funding we receive from Government falls $7000 short for each child attending the Centre, annually. That's our goal!
We have set up a Givealittle page to help reach our target, and we still have a way to go. Please head to the post on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheChampionCentre or go straight to Givealittle. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/a-cause-worth-championing to help us where you can, big or small, it will soon mount up. If you could share our plea among your family and friends, we will reach our goal, for sure!
With your help we can support our whānau to 'realise every child's potential'.
Every now and then, a company pops up with a kind gesture that will make an impact for years to come. We are fortunate to have known many, over the years. When we heard that a local branding company were keen to give our front sign a makeover, we jumped at the chance to lift our profile in the community, and make sure everyone knows where we are!
For the guys at Brown Kiwi Ltd, nothing was a problem, new graphics, a bigger sign, and an effortless installation. The team know all too well the importance of ensuring we are visible, and our message is clear to any potential supporters.
We are very grateful to Miles and his staff, to Juliette Capaldi from Etta Images for the photo shoot, and to the wonderful family allowing us to use this stunning photo.
Check us out when you drive past Burwood Road. We are very proud of our brand new look!
'The most important thing is hope', an impactful statement, as we settled down for a chat with Champion Centre graduate, Clement and his mother, Susanna. A huge reminder of the privilege to walk alongside our young champions and their families.
Susanna recently updated her contact details after receiving our 'Connect' newsletter, so we jumped at the chance to invite her and Clement for a visit, and thank them in person for their generous donation. Now 25 years old, a few years have passed since he last attended the Centre, and the beam on Clement's face as he arrived, said it all! When Susanna toured the building, it evoked powerful and heart-warming memories of their time here. Clement was also excited, when he checked our 'Whānau Tree,' finding some of his original team are still with us. "Margaret," he announced, pointing to her photo. Clearly, she hasn't changed a bit!
The journey for Clement and his parents began with a difficult birth, and a possible diagnosis of Global Developmental Delay, which in turn, led to a referral to the Champion Centre, at 15 months old. As new parents, this path was filled with confusion, bewilderment, and a fear of what things may look like for Clement, tomorrow, and into the future. But from Day 1 at the Centre, Susanna's family was met with reassurance, compassion, and a willingness to do whatever they could. Not much has changed here over the years.
Susanna is emotional, as she recalls a team of dedicated professionals, she was extremely grateful for. "They were all phenomenal!" she exclaims. "Clement just loved his music sessions with Julie Wylie, and really liked the computer work with Hilary. Then there was tactile play with Margi, and speech with Jan, and Jackie, she was so gentle and kind–he loved it all." As a few tears well up, Clement's mum tells us his weekly early intervention routine was "one anchor we came to rely on." She remembers back to those early days, "through the encouragement of the team, we learned what to do, and then we built on that, one day at a time." From the first weeks and through the coming years, the family connected with other Centre parents and were often humbled by the friendship and positivity that completely enveloped them. They were parents, uplifting each other, and they 'clicked.' We spoke of the 'Transition to School' programme and, at 6 years of age, our part in Clement's journey coming to an end. With a few more happy tears, Susanna spoke fondly of the attachment formed with staff, parents, and children, alike. "At the Centre we felt we belonged; it was a protected environment. The thought of leaving all that behind was like sitting at the end of a springboard ready to leap into the unknown." "We will be forever grateful to everyone; Margaret, who made the leap so much easier, and Jan who fought tirelessly to secure funding for teacher aide hours. We were fortunate we felt such love, acceptance, and inclusivity, moving from one organisation to another."
From those first years, fuelled by 'hope', Clement's mum proudly fills in the gap since he graduated from the Centre. Cathedral Grammar, Canterbury Christian College and Middleton Grange School take Clement to age 21, and from there he is now involved in a variety of daily activities at A J Day Options Trust. Alongside some fun day trips, and learning some useful life skills, Clement works at the Trust, and highlights the chance to stop for 'coffee and biscuits,' which is obviously a bit of a treat! It's a full-on household, with Susanna working full-time, as a Teacher Aide at Christ's College, Dad, Dong, running his iconic city food outlet; and Clement's younger brother, who's busy studying Law and Criminal Justice. Clement is keen to chat to us about how things are going and it's just terrific to see him expressing such fond memories, as he checks out the music room.
Before promising to come and visit us again, Susanna states, emphatically, "More people need to know about this beautiful place." And we couldn't agree more!
Technology Assisted Learning (TAL) helps to improve the capabilities of many children with disabilities and developmental challenges. Our small team of specialists tailor technology tools to develop programmes to meet individual needs and interests. Our Technology Assisted Learning programme has demonstrated efficacy in increasing a child's self reliance and sense of independence, which helps to alleviate barriers to communication and learning.
This vital and successful programme attracts no government funding support and is delivered each year through the generosity of our community.
You can help us to provide our Technology Assisted Learning programme. through your donation. Fraser's story illustrates how one of our Champion Centre graduates was first introduced to the Technology Assisted Learning programme, and the significant impact it had.
No one was entirely sure what 4 yr old Fraser could see and hear. They knew there was nothing structurally wrong with his eyes, but he did not seem to be using them to discover and learn about his world, and because his disability meant he could not tell others what he understood they had to be detectives to work out how to connect with Fraser and encourage him to engage with the world around him.
When Fraser first started in the Technology Assisted Learning programme, one thing the team did know was that he loved to watch a video called 'Hooray for Fish' on his iPad at home. So the team decided to use this to try to enter Fraser's world. They downloaded the video, cut it up into segments and put each segment into a different PowerPoint slide. Then they set up the transitions into the slide show so that Fraser would have to touch the screen to make the next slide come up. He watched the first part of the video as usual, with avid attention, but then it stopped! He showed his surprise, then his mother gently took his hand and touched it to the screen, so the video started again. After a few goes, he 'got it'. He could make the next section of the video come up by touching the screen. He learned the beginnings of cause and effect. A huge positive milestone for Fraser!
From there, Fraser moved on to using other programmes with clear moving figures on a black background. He learned how to touch a screen that was empty in order to make a picture he liked appear, and increase his ability to track images that move across the screen. he then began to follow the pictures in a book his mother read to him. Over time, Fraser's team and family learned more and more about what he could process and how to extend his abilities.
Little by little, Fraser learned that his eyes gave him the information he wanted and actively began to seek out information on the computer, either by touching the screen or pressing a large switch that is the first step towards using a computer mouse.
The Champion Centre is elated to be selected as a finalist in this year’s Westpac Champion Business Awards.
It is an honour to be recognised among our peers in ‘The Press Champion Community Impact Award’, and to celebrate our mahi with the best of the Waitaha Canterbury business community.
We are proud to showcase and highlight the achievements of our people, as we continue championing our whānau to ‘realise every child’s potential’. We are looking forward to joining Canterbury's best at the awards ceremony on 24 November.
Our thanks to everyone who’s helped make us a success story, and enabled Canterbury’s young champions to thrive, for more than 43 years.
Bella Lammers attended The Champion Centre as a baby and pre-schooler almost two decades ago. In July she returned to the Centre as part of a one-year internship programme. Project SEARCH is designed to give high school leavers with learning disabilities the work experience and skills they need to enter the workforce. Bella joined us for a 10-week internship where she very quickly became a valuable member of the team.
A number of long-serving staff remember Bella as a little girl when she came to the Champion Centre each week. This year, Bella was back as a colleague. Her tasks included setting up and clearing away morning tea trollies, stacking and unstacking the dishwasher, cleaning equipment and toys from the playroom, as well as sorting out the linen. Bella quickly learned the tasks required and carried them out with aplomb, freeing up time for other staff members to focus more on their roles.