Rachel Callander

Lived experience advocate
Rachel is deeply passionate about Paediatric Palliative care, due to her own lived experience as a mother to a daughter with a rare condition. After Evie's death in 2010, Rachel, a wedding portrait photographer, shifted her lens to capture and celebrate children like Evie. This started her on a whole new career path and trajectory. In 2014 she gave a TEDx talk in Auckland to 2500 people which kickstarted her role as speaker, author and advocate. She is the author of two books, Super Power Baby Project and Super Power Kids. These exceptional books celebrate the lives and abilities of children with a range of disabilities and conditions, and were inspired by Evie. In the two and a half years of Evie’s life, Rachel learnt a lot about the use of language in the health system, and has spent the subsequent years continuing to explore the impact and implications of how it is used - to positive and negative effect. Our language shapes our landscape. The words we speak influence the behaviour, attitudes, and beliefs of ourselves and others. Within high-stakes contexts, such as the sharing of difficult information, our words carry an enormous emotional weight. They can alienate and add trauma, or they can honour and empower. Rachel draws her engaging and unassumingly unique style from three distinct perspectives: Her motherhood to Evie, and the years of experience as a parent in the health system. Her perspective as an artist, applying right-brained emotional strength to a conversation often filled with left-brained statistics and facts. Her work with the Thought Leadership Business School where she has learned to build concepts and ideas into something strong, communicable, effective, and then to tailor those ideas to specific audiences. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) from the Dunedin School of Art in New Zealand, is an international award winning photographer and author, and travels globally to share her message around the importance of language and effective communication in healthcare.