School gets new $20k playground
GOLD Coast Titans rugby league star Mat Rogers rearranged his day ‘left, right and centre’ to visit Southern Cross K12 School yesterday and open the new $20,000 playground at the school’s Support Unit at East Ballina.
His reasons for changing his busy schedule were two-fold: As the father of an autistic child he wanted to ‘be here as a parent’ and show his support for parents of children with special needs, and he wanted to thank a couple of dear friends – local developer Chris Condon and his wife Jeanagh.
The dual international who played seven rugby league Tests for Australia and 41 rugby union Tests for the Wallabies said that when son Max was diagnosed as autistic he and his wife, Chloe Maxwell, were ‘lost and didn’t know where to turn’.
As it turned out, he and Mr Condon share the same lawyer and it was through him that they had what Rogers described as ‘a chance meeting’.
The Condons also have autistic children, and there also was another link between the two men: Rogers’ late dad, Steve, once owned the Lennox Point Hotel, which was later bought by Mr Condon.
“From the moment I met them it filled a space,” Rogers said.
“They were really supportive.
“We are grateful for their support. They helped ease the day-to-day struggles for us, and they are a credit to this community.”
The opening was a proud moment for Southern Cross student Anthony Pitt, who was given the honour of cutting a ribbon with Rogers to officially open the playground.
Southern Cross K12 deputy principal Michelle Slee described Jeanagh Condon as the main driving force behind the new playground, and also thanked Dave Loosemore and his staff from Aussie Rock Landscaping Construction, parents, the P&C and students for their input into the playground.
Mrs Condon echoed those sentiments, and praised the work of the ‘wonderful, dedicated’ teachers.
The playground is purpose-built for children with physical and intellectual disabilities and provides a controlled environment for them to play and learn in.
Southern Cross K-12 principal John Baker said the new playground is a great example of the generosity of the community, with costs covered by financial and in-kind donations from individuals and businesses.
“One family has donated approximately $12,000, and many other people, including grandparents, and the school’s P&C, have given as much money as they can,” Mr Baker said.
“Local businesses and families have also donated goods and services and have spent many hours building the bike path and working on the playground.”