A precious donation from a group of hoteliers has made an impossible dream a reality for a special needs school in North Wollongong.
Hotels Have Hearts Illawarra donated $60,000 for a new play area with specially designed equipment to meet the needs of the 108 students with disabilities at Para Meadows School.
The group of 29 hoteliers from Helensburgh through to Shellharbour fundraise annually for various children’s initiatives, with two representatives visiting the newly built playground on Wednesday to get in on the fun.
President of the Australian Hotels Association Illawarra sub-branch Andy Hannelley said he doesn’t think it’s strange giving back to needy children despite their businesses revolving around alcohol.
‘‘We’re all parents, we’re all members of the community, we’re no different to anyone else and this is an area of need and we want to try and help,’’ he said. ‘‘This isn’t driving our business, it’s not creating business opportunities, this is about really genuinely trying to help out.’’
The funds went to developing the interactive space to include an inground trampoline accessible by wheelchairs and high needs kids, protective soft fall grounding, and a four metre climbing frame which is especially useful for chilren with autism.
Principal of Para Meadows Gillian Hendry said they would have been waiting years for the much needed playground without their generosity. She said the students – ranging from kindergarten to year 12 – are now a lot more engaged through play, and has seen a decrease in behavioural issues through increased social interaction.
In the past Hotels Have Hearts Illawarra have given donations to other schools including the Peterborough Special School in Warilla, various surf clubs, and research initiatives.
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