Eighteen months ago Woonona’s Ashton Binskin could not walk, or talk, but he’s since mastered both thanks to KidzWish.
His mother Renee Jurgielan said Ashton, now five, was a ‘’different kid’’ thanks to regular sessions with an occupational, speech and physio therapist from the Illawarra children’s charity.
On Thursday the Woonona boy was one of a number of KidzWish ambassadors at the sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of construction of a $3.8 million centre at Flinders.
KidzWish Place, to be complete by mid-2018, will enable the charity to double the number of kids it supports who are sick, disadvantaged or have a disability. It will include six therapy rooms, a music and dance studio, sports hall and a ‘magic cupboard’ of toys.
‘’I think it’s great,’’ Ms Jurgielan said. ‘’Every child who needs additional therapies should be allowed access to them, and it’s nice there’s a local charity that can do that for kids in the Illawarra.
‘’Ashton had a severe infantile stroke during a biopsy for a brain tumour which left him vision impaired and with right side hemiplegia, a type of cerebral palsy.
‘’A year-and-a-half ago he wasn’t even walking or talking but now he’s walking with an aid and talking thanks to the early intervention from KidzWish – it’s really changed his life.’’
KidzWish board member Craig Mowbray said the facility would provide a ‘’lasting legacy of support, love and laughter’’.
‘’This project is the culmination of more than two years hard work and fundraising to realise our dreams and aspirations to become one of the leading children’s charities in the Illawarra,’’ he said.
‘’Without this new building we cannot address the ever increasing demand for our programs.
‘’...In the last 12 months we supported 5000 children; once the new facility is fully operational we will be able to double our capacity to support over 10,000 children.’’
The project is jointly funded by the Federal Government ($915,456); State Government ($248,000) and KidzWish Foundation ($2.64 million).
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis, parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward and Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba were among the dignitaries at the official launch.
‘’Shellharbour council is really pleased to be in this partnership with KidzWish,’’ Councillor Saliba said.
‘’Council will lease KidzWish the land for 40 years, they will build the facility and at the end of the lease they will have the option to renew, or it will revert back to a community facility.’’
KidzWish founder Chris Beaven said Piruse Constructions had volunteered to project manage the building.