IMB Bank Community Foundation is accepting applications for 2018

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Many childhood memories are formed playing in the school yard at recess and lunch, swinging on the jungle gym and playing chasings with friends.  

But what most of us take for granted as a rite of passage at primary school does not necessarily come easily if you are a student with an intellectual or physical disability.

Fairy Meadow Demonstration School has four classes in a special education unit, designed for children with mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities.  

In 2017, the School applied to the IMB Bank Community Foundation for funding to build a Sensory Garden, attached to the special education unit, which would allow their students to play in a safe environment.

The Sensory Garden provides unique fine and gross motor and sensory activities and experiences with specialised equipment and, when completed, will also include a garden with aromatic plants and flowers. The equipment available to students includes a slippery dip, tunnel, trampoline, hammock swing, a creek bed and timber bridge and a bike track around the garden.

The Assistant Principal of the support unit,Sue Swindells, said the IMB Bank Community Foundation funding had made an enormous amount of difference to the day-to-day outdoor activities for students.

 “Being able to go outdoors and interact with play equipment, as well as learn about plants and flowers when they are planted, has added another dimension to what we can provide our students.

“The Sensory Garden is not just used for the pupils in the special education unit. At times, other students from the school play there as well facilitating important socialisation for everyone,” she said.

Hayley Ashe from Towradgi is the mother of 11-year-old, Lara, who loves the Sensory Garden and plays in it every opportunity she can get.

“It has been wonderful for Lara,” Mrs Ashe said.

“I think she feels safer in the environment because it is smaller and less intimidating for her.

“She found it difficult coping with the hustle and bustle of the big playground but the Sensory Garden is perfect. She is also learning how to play on new equipment, which is giving her additional skills and more confidence,” she said.

Fairy Meadow Demonstration School was one of 50 recipients in the 2017 round of funding by IMB Bank Community Foundation. Applications for funding in 2018 are now open.

IMB Bank CEO Robert Ryan urged community groups, not-for-profit organisations and charities to put in an application for 2018.

“There are many incredible groups in our local area that do so much good for other people. We are always interested to hear about new projects, particularly those that need seed funding to start or projects already in operation that are looking to expand.

“The Community Foundation is now in its 19th year. To date, we have supported more than 600 projects and we are proud of the fact that most are still going.

“In many instances like the Men’s Shed movement, which we have supported for many years, the projects have expanded to other areas and there are now Men’s Sheds throughout the ACT, South Coast of NSW, Sydney and the Illawarra.

“But it all starts with an application. The local area has many people with great ideas and vision and IMB Bank Community Foundation can provide the funding so together we can make our communities better for everyone,” he said.

Applications close on February 9. Go to www.imb.com.au/communityfoundation to apply. 

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