media release 30 November 2006

Ruth Dyson throws support behind dyslexia Foundation

Disabilities Minister, The Hon Ruth Dyson, threw her full support behind the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand which was launched in Christchurch yesterday.

Dyson said at the launch that "dyslexia certainly does exist,” but qualified that by saying “we shouldn't get stuck on a debate about a label."

In his opening address, Foundation trustee Guy Pope-Mayell said "You wouldn't think that it would be necessary to state the obvious, but it's because some people maintain a determined resistance to accepting that Dyslexia actually exists that we are here today,” he said.

“Dyslexia was observed and named over 100 years ago and brain research has confirmed absolutely that dyslexics use a different part of their brain for processing certain information - simply put they think differently. Recent Auckland university research has independently confirmed this.”

In a Breakfast television interview yesterday Pope-Mayell directed his comments specifically to Steve Maharey and the Ministry of Education saying it was well overdue that the Ministry of Education accepted dyslexia did exist and that dyslexia assessment, learning opportunities and resources were made available to dyslexic learners in every school in New Zealand.

"Since launching the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand website we have been rewarded by our richest dream,” he said.

“We have had an overwhelming level of support and feedback from New Zealand schools."

“This is a tipping point and confirmation that the timing is right for all those that are unified in a desire to help dyslexic children".

"Across the country, teachers, principals, and school boards are seeing what can be done rather than what can not. They see that with courage and commitment of resources that solving the dyslexia puzzle is possible"

Cashmere Primary School Principal, Jacqui Duncan also spoke at the launch giving her full support for the foundation and stressed that there are simple steps that can be taken that make a huge difference in the classroom.

Advocating change to New Zealand’s education policy to recognise dyslexia is a key goal of the Foundation that will give a voice to over 70,000 children aged between 5 and 18 who struggle with dyslexia with no specific resources or funding.

Increasing the awareness, recognition, understanding and acceptance of dyslexia as a way of thinking in New Zealand are the primary aims of the new organisation Pope-Mayell said.

All the organisations, companies, individuals and groups that are members of the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand are unified in their mission to have dyslexia recognised and accepted throughout the New Zealand community and in our education system as a way of thinking.

International statistics indicate that 4% of all children are strongly dyslexic with up to 10% of children being dyslexic to some extent. Dyslexic’s commonly experience great difficultly with reading writing, spelling and/or mathematical symbols.

Popular New Zealand award winning band Everymore have agreed that their new single, Light Surrounding You, can be used as the theme song for the New Zealand Dyslexia Foundation.

Pope-Mayell said the chart topping single’s lyrics and ‘soul’ connected emotionally with the foundation and its objectives.

There are many successful and famous people who are dyslexic. They include New Zealand’s Weta Workshop’s Richard Taylor and John Britten, Virgin high flyer Richard Branson, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.