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100th Charity Signs On For Innovative Programme

NEWS RELEASE 24 September 2008

100th Charity Signs On For Innovative Programme

The Brainwave Trust which among other things helps to teach good parenting skills to mothers in prison has become the 100th charity to sign up for an innovative programme that helps fund small scale children’s charities in New Zealand.

Brainwave Trust Executive Director Kim van Duiven said the organisation had signed up for the Sovereign Sunshine programme as a means of securing additional funding to support the charity’s broad range of activities which also included the prison programme.

Kim said the Trust which educates the wider community about the importance of a child’s experiences during the first three years of life had welcomed the recent amendment to the Corrections Act 2004.

“The amendment will effectively enable children of female prisoners to be accommodated with their mothers until the age of 24 months for the purpose of breastfeeding and bonding – something that the Trust is entirely supportive of,” Kim said.

In partnership with the Books in Prison Trust, The Brainwave Trust designed a programme to educate mothers in prison, on the crucial role they play in their child’s brain development.

“Children’s experiences, both good and bad, largely determine how their brains develop, and whether they’ll become capable, contributing and well adjusted adults.

“Research indicates that a prison term, however short, can have devastating effects on a mother and her children,” Kim said.

“In cases where there is no alternative but to impose a prison sentence on a woman with children, it is critical that they have the opportunity to learn skills they need to give their children a loving, stimulating, secure environment once they are released.”

The Brainwave Trust programme run in prisons is divided into two sessions, both of which are held over a week. The sessions focus on: how the brain develops; the impact of positive and negative experiences on the developing brain; attachment; self esteem and goal setting and; positive parenting skills. At the end of the programme, each woman receives a copy of the book ‘Brainy Babies’written by Brainwave Trust founder and leading paediatrician Dr Robin Fancourt.

With initial funding from the Sir Thomas and Lady Duncan Trust, The Mothers in Prison programme has been held in Arohata (Wellington Women’s Prison), Christchurch Women’s Prison and the Auckland Women’s Regional Prison, with over 100 women having participated in the sessions.

Kim said feedback from participants who have attended The Mothers in Prison programme has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We hope that the public will support the work that we’re doing by voting for us online via the Sovereign Sunshine programme website.”

The Sovereign Sunshine programme which is backed by Kiwi actress and mother of two, Greer Robson helps under-resourced New Zealand children’s charities by providing them with funding.

Each month the initiative focuses on a different charity group, with members of the public deciding via online voting which charity will receive the funding. Sovereign staff also play their part, by helping to raise funds for the different charities.

Sovereign Head of Marketing and Product Management, Vena Crawley, said making a difference to the many children’s charities operating in New Zealand was an important undertaking for the organisation.

“We’re very committed to continuing to encourage health and well-being in local communities through the programme and urge people to get behind it and vote online for their favourite charities like the Brainwave Trust.”

To find out more about Sovereign Sunshine or to vote for a charity visit

About The Brainwave Trust

- The Brainwave Trust is the working arm of the Aotearoa/New Zealand Infant Brain Development Trust.

- Formed in 1998, it was initially headed by New Plymouth Paediatrician Dr Robin Fancourt. Robin is an internationally respected for her work with abused and neglected children and the author of ‘Brainy Babies’ published by Penguin Books.

- Brainwave was initially formed as a response to new scientific evidence on the impact that experiences in the first three years have on the brain development of a child.

- Brainwave’s vision is that one day every child in New Zealand will get the best start in life because parents and the whole community understand and value the impact early experiences have on the developing brain and thus on the success of our society.

- The Brainwave Trust committee is made up of doctors, educationalists, academic and business professionals who all work voluntarily. The Trust also has three part-time paid employees: Executive Director Kim van Duiven, Administrator Sandie Cameron and Presenter Co-ordinator Jane Valentine-Burt.

- Brainwave works closely with a number of agencies including: Child Youth & Family Service, NZ Police, Ministry of Social Development, Children’s Agenda, Safer Cities, Great Potentials Foundation, Plunket, Barnardos, Parents Inc. PORSE, HIPPY, Life Education Trust.

- The Brainwave Trust receives no government funding. It relies entirely on grants, corporate support and individual donations.

- The Brainwave Trust is headquartered in Auckland its website is:


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