Boogie bandits star at StarJam

Zyah MacLennan feels the music. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

I was born on Friday the 13th, Black Friday. If that start wasn’t bad enough, things got worse.

I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, I have developmental issues, autism and 11 levels of epilepsy.

But, and it’s a big but, I have got rhythm. As Michael Jackson once said, “Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?”

Well, I am living and I do feel the music, so I’m sure MJ must have must have been talking about me. I am eight-year-old Zyah McLennan of Bellevue.

And as of last week I am a paid-up, ticket-holding, fully initiated Boogie Bandit, a Jammer. My ID stands proof: “StarJam, Zyah, Boogie Bandit.”

There are about 12 Boogie Bandits at StarJam and last week we got down and danced because that’s what we like to do. But until now there hasn’t been outlet in Tauranga for our talents.

Sure, we can stand in the living room and crank up ‘Pops for Tots’, but music, rhythm and dance should be a shared experience. And Wednesday night, for the first time in my eight years, I could share this with Ferguson and my new mate Alex, a couple of other newly inducted Boogie Bandits.

We went to StarJam, and we danced and boogied, as Bandits do. Bruno Mars and ‘Uptown Funk’ while the guys ‘Wishy Washy’, which is kind of making like a window washer.

You have to remember I didn’t even want to go to StarJam, but that behaviour comes with the territory really. And now I don’t want to quit. My Wednesday evenings are sorted. And if you asked me whether I would prefer to watch SpongeBob SquarePants on TV or go to StarJam, the answer is simple.

I would watch a wee bit of TV and then go to StarJam.

The grown-ups will tell you StarJam is an organisation that empowers young people with disabilities through music and performance.

I will tell you that you don’t need a doctor’s certificate to get along and sing, dance, boogie and beat drums with a whole lot of kindred spirits. You discover the stuff you enjoy doing in the privacy of your own living room easily has a wider audience and a bigger stage.

It certainly lifts the enjoyment levels being watched and watching others.

By the way, I used to do pretty good impressions of a rock guitarist performing screaming lead breaks. Now I don’t have to make believe. I have got a brand new red ukulele. I already know the C and F chords. They say it’s good for my hand finger co-ordination. I just know it’s fun.

I am also into cheeseburgers… minimalist ones. No onions, pickles and meat, but I might take the meat home for the cat. But mainly just cheese and plenty of sauce. In fact two cheeseburgers please. It all makes for a pretty good Wednesday night.

I wrote this story with a little help from reporter Hunter Wells.

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