By DAVID HILL
Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury is turning to its international roots in its choice of guest speaker for a fundraising breakfast next month.
Former New Zealand basketballer and Christchurch family and youth court judge Jane McMeeken, whose work mirrors the motivation behind the founding of the Big Brothers movement in New York in 1904, will speak at the annual fundraising breakfast on May 2.
“The Big Brothers movement was started in the United States by a New York city court clerk who felt there was a common theme of boys growing up without a positive mentor,” Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury events manager Natasha Ackroyd says.
“And Jane McMeeken reflects this. When our patron Frank Endacott approached her, she said ‘I love Big Brothers, of course I’ll do it’.
“She’s not Steve Hansen, but she is a sports star and she has the same passion as we do and she has the power to do something about it.”
Ms McMeeken captained the Tall Ferns during her international stint from 1982 to 1986 and comes from a sporting family.
Her mother was a New Zealand netball representative, her uncle, Robin Archer, an All Black, and her two daughters have also played for the Tall Ferns.
She was appointed as a family and youth court judge in 1999, having worked in family and criminal law.
Her biography says her youth court work involves issues with drug and alcohol addictions among young people. However, there are insufficient resources to treat the addictions, which she believes would stop many from reoffending.
Instead, these youths often end up in youth justice residents or in the prison youth unit.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s website says the movement was started in 1904 by New York children’s court clerk Ernest Coulter, who “was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom”.
“He recognised that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble and he set out to find volunteers,” the website says.
A live auction will be held during the breakfast in which items donated by local businesses will be offered, while Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury manager Ellie Le Gros will interview a mentor match to share their experience.
Tickets to the fundraising breakfast cost $40 each and can be purchased by phoning (03) 3107004, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or going to the website www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org.nz/local/north-canterbury.