Jasmine Butcher, aged 19 Jasmine arrived into the world 15 weeks before her due date and weighing only 665 grams. Because research shows that children born this early are at a high risk of developmental delays and disabilities, it is important that their growth and development is closely monitored in the early weeks and months, and appropriate therapy provided. Jasmine was therefore referred to the Champion Centre where she and her parents received the level support and advice they needed throughout the pre-school years.
The first day Maree and Norm came to the Champion Centre with baby Jasmine, they found it quite daunting. There were a number of therapists asking them various questions. Maree remembers thinking, ‘I just want to get through this first year’.
Jasmine needed support from a physiotherapist in relation to her physical development. So, in partnership with her parents, the team helped maximise her potential through hands-on sessions and discussion and explanation on how to enhance Jasmine’s physical development through play and appropriate functional activities. Jasmine remembers riding a little bike up and down the Centre hallway around the time she ‘graduated’ and headed to school.
Jasmine’s sessions at the Centre involved both group and 1:1 work. Jasmine struggled with matching things such as patterns and pairs, but was able to use Reader Rabbit®, computer software that teaches basic skills in reading, identifying shapes, matching objects and letters, counting and using a computer mouse. Jasmine attended Bee’s Knees pre-school, where she also had support from an Early Intervention Educator (called an Education Support Worker at the time) employed by the Champion Centre.
From four and a half years of age, Jasmine was progressing really well, although her parents have noticed that she does appear to ‘pick up trends’ later than other children, such as socialising with her peers. Maree and Norm made a conscious decision for Jasmine to attend a larger primary school, that way she was encouraged to make friends, especially as she was an only child.
Reflecting on her time at the Champion Centre, Maree feels they were always kept up to date on Jasmine’s progress. She feels the most important thing the Centre gave Jasmine was getting her off to a good start despite her prematurity and how fragile she was as an infant. ‘By the time she started primary school, she hit the ground running and was ahead of other kids,’ says Maree.
At the end of primary school, Jasmine took a shine to singing and started keyboard lessons soon after. She also started tap and jazz dancing, along with piano lessons. While a student at Marian College, Jasmine was involved in drama and the school choir. You could say music and performing arts were in her DNA and now Jasmine has just finished her first year studying towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Music at the University of Canterbury where she also sings in the chamber choir. Where does Jasmine see herself in five years? ‘Maybe in the States as a musical theatre performer or on Broadway, either that or I’ll still be living at home saving to go flatting,’ says Jasmine.