special school

Community pitches in for special school

A HERVEY Bay Special School space described as “just grass and dirt” eight weeks ago is now a beautiful sensory garden thanks to University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Change Makers program, Fraser Coast Anglican College (FCAC) students and supporters.

The FCAC team won $5000 to create the garden after pitching their idea at the inaugural Change Makers Pitchfest on USQ Fraser Coast Open Day in August. Last week that garden was officially opened.

FCAC Year 11 student Alice Leighton said the team wanted to make a difference for the special school children by creating a new garden in which they could eat, play, read and relax in attractive and functional surroundings.

“We’ve previously done some community work here and noticed how run down (the garden) was so we thought ‘Let’s come here and make a difference’,” Ms Leighton said.

“Basically it was just grass and dirt so we’ve come a long way with it.

“The garden now has sensory tyres and a reading nook where kids can sit and read. We’ve also put in new plants and mulch, and some artificial turf for the eating area.

“Most of it was done with USQ funding. The tyres were donated by Bob Jane T-Mart, and the mulch and plants were donated by the council. We had a lady from the council come and teach us about the plants and how to look after them.

“My favourite part would have to be the tyres because they’re so interesting. We’ve painted them and added our on personal touches.

“The project taught us lots of new skills including how to budget. It was a really good experience.”

Hervey Bay Special School

Hervey Bay Special School Principal Jo McCracken said the new garden was an amazing project created by an amazing group of Fraser Coast Anglican College students.

“It’s now a lot cleaner, more user-friendly and more interactive. We’re hoping this will be an ongoing project and we can do other little things along the way.”

Fraser Coast Anglican College

Fraser Coast Anglican College Principal Leisa Harper said that while she was proud of the students and thrilled with their work, it was the smiles on the special school children’s faces that made the project worthwhile.

“We’re already talking about what we’re going to do next year,” Ms Harper said.

“I just love the fact the community really got behind it. USQ was fabulous in providing the funding, and also the council, Bunnings and Bob Jane T-Mart for their donations. It just shows what a great community we live in.”

Fraser Coast Regional Council

Fraser Coast Councillor Stuart Taylor said to see high school students investing their time and effort into a community project was a wonderful thing.

“The soul of a community can be attributed to the individuals who contributed and got engaged.  It’s not about Local or State Government, it’s about the people,” Councillor Taylor said.

“What you see here is young people identifying a need and seeking help through USQ. It was remarkable they were able to pitch their idea and throughout a course of time, create such a beautiful space for young kids to enjoy. It’s really good to see students fulfilling a need for others.”

USQ Change Makers

USQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas said the Change Makers program invested in young people who had shown the potential and commitment to make change in their communities.

“Change Makers aims to develop the students’ potential and provide them with further inspiration, resources and support to pursue their own visions for better futures,” Professor Thomas said.

“By developing their individual capacity, we hope to build the capacity of our communities.”


Photo: USQ Fraser Coast’s Emma Molen (front right) congratulates those involved in the Change Makers garden project at Hervey Bay Special School including HBSS Principal Jo McCracken (front left) and students Zanthe O’Connor and Piper Johns, Fraser Coast Anglican College Principal Leisa Harper (centre) and students (sitting l-r) Katie Sidhom, Jake Pavey, Aimee Nash, Anastasiya Kuzio-Barnes and Alice Leighton, while looking on are FCAC teachers (back left) Marissa Novak and Greg Perkins, (right) Roz Nicholls, and Fraser Coast Councillor Stuart Taylor.
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