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Dyslexia Awareness Shines on the Red Carpet

Monday, March 13 2006

Dyslexia Awareness Shines on the Red Carpet of Film Premiere

Raising awareness about dyslexia is important to the producer of the romantic comedy film ‘Meet Me In Miami‚’ when the film has its New Zealand red carpet premiere in Christchurch on March 22nd 2006.

‘Meet Me In Miami’ has received a lot of early Hollywood interest having featured on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ twice to date, and the film’s Kiwi producer Lisa Abbott wanted the New Zealand premiere to be an opportunity to raise awareness about dyslexia.

Lisa has two children who are dyslexic and as a Kiwi mum she is not alone in this regard.

International statistics indicate that 7% of all children are strongly dyslexic, with up to 25% of children being dyslexic to some extent. Dyslexics commonly experience great difficulty with reading, writing, spelling and/or mathematical symbols.

“The Dyslexic mind thinks predominantly in pictures and to me a movie premiere is a perfect vehicle to raise awareness of dyslexia in a visual way that is also so positive and celebratory,” says Abbott.

Abbott called on the help of Cookie Munchers Charitable Trust to raise awareness about the learning disability through her film premiere. Cookie Muncher’s Managing Trustee, Guy Pope-Mayell, is delighted that ‘Meet Me In Miami’ will promote dyslexia awareness.

“Two of my own children are dyslexic so I really understand the challenges that dyslexia creates for a child. It is fantastic to be able to raise awareness about dyslexia at a special event like a NZ film premiere and in such a creative way,” says Pope-Mayell.

The Cookie Munchers Trust has recently announced an exciting project to develop a new learning centre for children called The John Britten Centre. The Trust also has plans for a new Dyslexia Information and Discovery Centre. These initiatives, based in Christchurch, will support a globally renowned dyslexia correction programme that helps to overcome many of the learning difficulties associated with dyslexia.

The late John Britten, a renowned Kiwi entrepreneur and inventor, was dyslexic.

“John struggled at school with his reading and writing because of his dyslexia. But the unique picture thinking ability and creative gifts of dyslexia enabled his design genius to shine as he got older,” says Kirsteen Britten.

“We now have so much more understanding and appreciation of dyslexia. The difficulty for dyslexic children is how they perceive their letters and numbers or maintain their visual focus on their work. What is really exciting is that there is now a wonderful new programme called the Davis Dyslexia Correction programme.”

“This programme helps children understand that they are seeing their letters and numbers in three dimensions and that they need to use focussing tools to maintain their attention. The programme then offers an alternative way of learning letters and numbers that suits the way that they learn. The Davis philosophy recognises and celebrates that we all learn and see the world in many different ways,” says Kirsteen Britten.

The Cookie Munchers Trust assists and encourages children and their parents and educators by supporting a range of Davis Programmes, including the Correction Programme and a special course for teachers’ that helps them in the classroom, the Davis Learning Strategies.

“I have been on my own journey with the Davis Programme, and it has changed my life,” says Kirsteen. “Just like John, I just couldn’t keep up at school and like many children who are dyslexic, my self-esteem really plummeted. As I got older I became very reluctant to tackle new jobs or roles because someone may discover that I couldn’t read or write to the level that was expected.”

“The Davis Programme has given me the confidence and skills to re-train and try so much that I wouldn’t have considered a year ago. And with the help of the Cookie Munchers Trust, many children around NZ are now getting this opportunity to attend the Davis Programme.” says Kirsteen.

For film producer Lisa Abbott and Kirsteen Britten, walking the red carpet promoting a Kiwi-made romantic comedy film is an opportunity to share love and goodwill by raising awareness about dyslexia in a glamorous and fun-filled way with their own families who have been affected by this learning difficulty.

The family-friendly romantic comedy, ‘Meet Me In Miami,’ is being released in selected Hoyts Cinemas throughout the country from March 23rd, 2006.


Dyslexics commonly experience varying degrees of difficulty with reading, writing, spelling and mathematical symbols. These difficulties can result in significant barriers to learning within the mainstream education system.

There are three common defining factors of dyslexia:

1. The ability to think primarily in pictures

2. The ability to alter their senses (perception)

3. A lower than normal threshold for confusion

Research from the USA indicates that up to 25 % of children maybe
dyslexic to some degree.

5-8% of children are strongly dyslexic.

At present, dyslexia is most commonly viewed as a specific learning

Dyslexic children most often go undetected. The symptoms are identified but rather than being correctly diagnosed they are labelled lazy, unwilling, disruptive, unintelligent, or daydreamers. This most often creates frustration and self-doubt within the child which leads to low self esteem and the behavioural problems that flow from that.

50% of all prison inmates are dyslexic. Sadly the consequences of low self-esteem and failure within the school system can have long-term implications.

With increased understanding about dyslexia, we now recognise that dyslexia is a perceptual gift that enables children to think more creatively.


To put dyslexia in context, some inspirational famous dyslexics are:
* Richard Taylor (Weta Workshop)
* John Britten
* Richard Branson
* Orlando Bloom
* Albert Einstein
* Leonardo da Vinci
* Winston Churchill
* Walt Disney
* Alexander Graham Bell
* Thomas Edison


The Cookie Munchers Charitable Trust raises money from the public, business and community groups, and other trusts and grant-making organisations to provide scholarships for children aged 8 -18 years to attend the Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme throughout NZ.

The Davis Programme is delivered in NZ as a one-to-one weeklong course. It has a 97% success rate – and is often life-changing for the dyslexic child and family.

With cornerstone sponsorship from Cookie Time Ltd, the Trust has also supported Davis Learning Strategies Workshops for primary school teachers to enhance their understanding of dyslexia and classroom skills.

The Trust is focused on raising awareness of dyslexia and creating a better understanding of the perceptual gifts and creative talents that the dyslexic child most often has.


The John Britten Centre is a recently announced, Christchurch based CMCT initiative.

Nowadays, the name 'John Britten' is often mentioned alongside the word 'genius', yet as a child John had struggled in a school system not designed to recognise and nurture his creative gifts. John Britten was dyslexic, and although his school reports suggested he was destined for anything but greatness, John was later to be revered as a creative and technical genius (see ).
John had to overcome struggles and used his creativity to reveal his talent to the world. The spirit which characterised John Britten - that of courage, enterprise and invention - continues on in the John Britten Centre.

By bringing together established leaders in education, the Cookie Munchers Charitable Trust aims to create, through collaboration and synergy, an environment that empowers all those that come into contact with it.
“Educational Partnerships” are already established with Davis Dyslexia Association and eTime (see ). Other complimentary partnerships are presently being formed. The John Britten Centre offers these organisations an opportunity to come together and share their wisdom, working with parents, schools and the community to transform learning for children.

The Dyslexia Information and Discovery Centre

Plans are in place to create a vibrant centre where the latest information about dyslexia will be available.

Stage two of our vision will see members of the public take an experiential journey during which the “gift of dyslexia” is discovered.

Inspiration will be provided by way of the life stories of some gifted dyslexics – John Britten (inventor), Richard Taylor (Weta Workshop), Mackenzie Thorpe (international artist), and Ron Davis (dyslexia expert & author) to name some.

Donations towards any of our initiatives would be warmly appreciated through the website or by contacting the Trust on:



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