A not-for-profit, volunteer-run project several years in the making officially opened its doors at Yallah earlier this week.
"We bought our first Lego for this project five years ago with $360," The DENNY Foundation's Margaret Purcell said on Thursday.
"It's been our dream to do something for the young people of the Illawarra."
Banjo's Brix & Botz is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) create and play centre with a difference.
Brix & Botz is a partnership between The DENNY Foundation and RoboLink Education.
The centre will raise funds to support young people with learning difficulties and mental health conditions.
The centre offers fun, creative play with Lego and Duplo, Lego Robotics sessions and more.
It's open to the public five days a week, for ages two to 16, with all profits from entry fees funding on-site educational and support services for children on the autism spectrum and those struggling with mental health conditions.
The DENNY Foundation was founded more than a decade ago.
Margaret and late husband John founded the not-for-profit organisation and named it after their youngest son, Dennis 'Denny' Purcell.
Denny took his own life, aged 25, after battling chronic endogenous depression.
Margaret is CEO of the foundation, while daughter Lauren is director of the new centre and foundation chairperson.
For many years, a key part of the then Warilla-based organisation's operations was their food co-op, whereby they 'rescued' food from retailers and redistributed the items to help those in need.
However, as other, similar food rescue-style operations began to be established throughout the region to help meet that need, Margaret said they knew it was time for a change.
Therefore, they decided to wrap up their food co-op project, and focus on the new play centre.
"We wanted to get back to our core value, which was working with (young) people with mental health issues," she said.
The new centre is named after Lauren's teenage son Banjo, who is on the autism spectrum and has encountered issues with bullying and mental health.
"At the DENNY Foundation site at Warilla we did have an educational space, so we were helping youth there," Lauren said.
"Food (rescue) kind of took everything over, and we wanted to get back to that helping young people.
"We wanted to provide a service, going back to Denny's story, whereby we were trying to prevent kids from getting to that point where suicide can happen.
"We've carried on the family legacy from Denny down to the next generation."
Banjo's Brix & Botz was originally scheduled to open by September, but this was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Banjo's Brix & Botz centre is located at Unit 5, 60 Princes Highway, Yallah.
For bookings, visit www.brixbotz.org.
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