After two years of lobbying, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward had a big surprise for KidzWish founder Chris Beaven on Friday night.
Just hours before the annual KidzWish Ball, Mr Ward had secured approval from the premier and treasurer for the NSW Government to invest $1.5 million in the children’s charity to expand services for Illawarra kids with special needs.
The announcement, which came as a surprise to Mrs Beaven and everyone involved with the charity, means KidzWish Place, a multimillion-dollar centre at Flinders, can now be built.
KidzWish Place 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 became aware KidzWish Place may not have been able to be finished,” Mr Ward said.
“The need was dire and desperate”.
Mr Ward said having grown up in the Illawarra with a disability he was always aware of the important need for services.
“This is not a hand out but a hand up,” he said.
“KidzWish started in the back room of Chris and John Beavan’s home and has grown to give services to thousands of special kids in the Illawarra and South Coast.”
Mr Ward said he had previously been able to give $250,000 to KidzWish but worked really hard in the past week to secure the funding so he could make the announcement at the KidzWish Ball on Friday.
“KidzWish is filling a real need in the community,” he said.
Mr Ward said the major announcement should not just be seen as another government grant but recognition by the government of the important work KidzWish does in the community.
Mr Ward said Wollongong councillor Cameron Walters had been a big supporter who helped him get the funding across the line.