At the Springwood Public Support Unit, if the children want to play outdoors they have a small grassy area and a dirt patch.
There are 21 children who attend the support unit. Most have autism and are unable to go into the playground with the rest of the school kids because it can be an overwhelming experience.
Desperate to improve facilities for their children and ineligible for government funding, parents have started a fundraising campaign to provide an outdoor shelter and play equipment.
“We have worked with our local occupational therapists to create a sensory integration play area with equipment where the children can play in sand, bounce, swing and slide,” said Jasmine Cook, whose seven-year-old son Monty attends the support unit.
“Inclusive play is very important and enables children with special needs to build social skills and increases positive attitudes and interaction between all children regardless of abilities.”
They hope to raise $20,000 for a shelter, with swings, a slide and objects to climb and balance on, as well as a sandpit.
Parents say the outdoor play equipment is also important for fostering good relationships among the students.
It’s vital for them to have an all encompassing experience.Jane Renneberg-Bles
“They can engage with each other in meaningful play. It’s about fostering good behaviour and good relationships,” said Jane Renneberg-Bles whose seven-year-old son Rocky also attends the unit.
“It’s vital for them to have an all encompassing experience."
The unit currently has an inside swing, which the children look forward to playing on.
“Some [kids] need movement to be calm, some need movement to be alert. It’s so important to be stimulated … so they can absorb information for their education,” Ms Renneberg-Bles said.
Donations have been steadily rolling in, including a generous $5000 donation from former Springwood Public School student Matt Shuter, who was school captain in 1989.
“Your [support unit] story struck a chord and I wanted to help out as best I can,” Mr Shuter said.
Parents will be out selling raffle tickets in Springwood in upcoming weekends, and material donations for the outdoor structure are welcome by contacting Wendy Carn at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, visit: gf.me/u/dp5wrr.