Students of all abilities can now play side-by-side after the official launch of an inclusive space at Waratah Public School.
The Variety Inclusive Playspace, which cost more than $130,000, includes a net disk swing, octagonal climbing frame, scooter track, sand pit, mud kitchen, tree house, and a creek bed and bridge.
The playspace is located within the grounds of the support unit but is accessible for classes from the mainstream school.
There are three support units at the school, which cater for children with cognitive delays, autism, global developmental delays, cerebral palsy, and addition syndromes.
Assistant principal, Sonja Drewitt, thanked Variety – the Children’s Charity for its $100,000 grant towards the project, as well as other sponsors and the school community.
“This is extremely important for the multiple disabilities that the children have,” she said.
“It’s an area where they can come out, self-regulate, and get more prepared for learning.”
Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW/ACT chief executive, David Sexton, said the charity had been a big supporter of inclusion since its formation in Australia in 1975.
“A playground is a really wonderful way of demonstrating inclusion,” he said.
“Kids of all abilities and ages, and even adults, should have the right to play.
“Often playgrounds are restrictive in terms of what they have in them and how you can even get there.
“This is so important for a school like Waratah, and the Hunter Region, to allow kids of all abilities to play together, so we’re very proud to be a part of the project.”
The previous equipment was deemed outdated and underutilised, with limited sensory output for students with autism.
Variety raised funds for the playground through last year’s Variety of Chefs gala dinner in Newcastle.
The event promises an impressive culinary experience, exclusive entertainment, and an array of auction items.
The 2019 edition is on Saturday 10 August from 6pm. Visit variety.org.au for more information or to book tickets.