Rebecca Va'ai: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Astounding things happen when Becks helps kids find their voice
The $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant has allowed Saintz Up Performing Arts Trust (SUPA) to purchase new speakers and keyboards for their dancers and has allowed the group to move to a bigger location to cater for the almost double in group numbers they have received since the program aired.
With membership growth and access to improved resources, SUPA have been able to up skill members to become teaching assistants, enabling SUPA to share their program and help build confidence and self-belief of youths in the South Auckland community.
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 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 a 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.
The grant has enabled “more dreams to come true” says Becks.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.