Rebecca Va'ai: Saintz Up Performing Arts Trust
Astounding things happen when Becks helps kids find their voice
It’s amazing what can happen when Rebecca (Becks) Va’ai and her team encourage children to find their voice.
Not all become TV sensations, but one testament to their good work is Selevasio Tu'ima of Little Big Shots fame.
When he started at Saintz Up Performing Arts Trust (SUPA) he was so shy he barely said anything.
But in 2017, the 13-year-old wowed millions of fans after being flown to Australia to sing on the TV show.
“Over the last couple of years, he’s just really flourished and really grown into a wonderful young man,” says SUPA founder Becks.
“Our vision and mission are to use the performing arts to build confidence and self-belief so the children can reach or chase whatever dreams they may have.”
“It could be a simple thing where a child puts their name forward for a student leadership role at school or goes for a trial with a rugby team.”
The 400 or so kids aged three to seventeen who attend SUPA all leave with skills beyond music and dance, she says.
Becks and her partner, Nainz, started SUPA in 2009. It sprang from Lil Saintz Dance Crew, which she and sister Vaimoana created three years earlier for her nieces.
Within a few years the girls had won national competitions and eventually won a silver medal at the 2011 World Hip Hop Championship.
Other kids were clamouring to get involved. Private tuition was out of reach for most, so Becks sourced sponsorship to keep fees to a minimum.
Her passion is contagious, with several former students, including her nieces, coming back to teach the next crop of kids.
Becks is overwhelmed to be a Westfield Local Hero.
“Our team are the heroes, giving up their time knowing they could be paid a whole lot more somewhere else,” she says.
SUPA will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to pay for operating costs, including venue hire and the purchase of musical equipment.
“It will make more dreams come true,” says Becks.