A major focus for the Trust is supporting children that think differently so that they are able to reach their full potential. In 2004 and 2005, the Trust ran a $200,000 scholarship programme for families addressing dyslexia. That programme led to the formation in November 2006 of the Dyslexia Foundation of New Zealand (DFNZ), with the Trust as principal sponsor.
DFNZ’s mission is to increase the awareness, recognition, understanding and acceptance of dyslexia as an alternative way of thinking. It is focused on action-oriented activities to champion change for dyslexic individuals, and on providing information, tools and resources to inspire others to do the same.
DFNZ has built its reputation on successful advocacy and action, becoming the country’s foremost lobby group for dyslexia. It has run a number of successful advocacy and action weeks, and has worked closely with the Ministry of Education to highlight the need for better processes and funding for NCEA exam accommodations. In 2015, DFNZ activated a second focus area of youth justice, advocating for change to raise the Youth Court age. And in May 2016 it hosted a groundbreaking Neurodisabilities Forum bringing together Justice Department representatives, NGOs, Ministries, Police and academics to explore how neurodisabilities create vulnerability when they come into contact with the justice system. This event, and ongoing DFNZ advocacy, has seen neurodifference become a key consideration for government policy makers in education and justice.
Other highlights for the Trust in the area of thinking differently include the creation of the Dyslexia Discovery Exhibit in Christchurch. Opened in 2007, this multi-award winning outdoor public gallery experience provides knowledge, inspiration and encouragement for those who think differently.
In 2010, Cookie Time Charitable Trust sponsored Autism Appeal Week. And in June 2011, it supported four students from Oturu School in Northland on a trip to the US to present results of a research project into saving honey bees. The research project stemmed from Oturu School’s radical approach to learning, encouraging students to explore real life issues in order to connect with learning in more meaningful ways.