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Donation improves access

A fundraising organisation has donated a bus to the Warracknabeal Special Development School on Tuesday to further cater for the needs of their 40 students. 

WSDS voiced their need to meet demand to the group Variety, where they were put on a waiting list to secure the bus. 

Later they received word Variety had put them up in the waiting list, and they were set to receive the 12-seater Toyota Hiace as a donation valued at $60, 000. 

Principal Peter Clayton said the donation came as a welcomed surprise, which will provide greater access to the schools programs. 

“We used to have one and it ran its life, we contacted Variety and - we went on a waiting list. All of a sudden we got a phone call out of the blue to say we’d been moved up the list and there was one available if we wanted it, we had to contribute a certain amount and we had that ready to go.”

As the school steadily grows, there has been growing demand for a reliable method of transport to enable learning outside the classroom.

WSDS provides education programs for students aged 5-18. The school works hard to provide each student with an individualised, unique learning experience with curriculum designed to promote personal independence and community involvement.

The experiences offer an education based on real work situations including a University Café, Auto Detailing and Audio-Visual programs, Graphic Arts and Garage Band jam sessions in nearby regional towns.

Without public transport in the area, and a climate frequently exceeding 40 degrees in the summer, walking the 4km round trip into town was not a viable option for the students and faculty.

Mr Clayton said the Variety Sunshine Coach, specially marked with the WSDS logo, will allow students to go on camps and excursions, as well as actively participate in pre-vocational classes to assist in developing crucial employability skills as part of the combined Wimmera Specialist Schools program. 

“This will allow us to access the community, go on camps, short excursions to Horsham for cultural performances that we do our vocational program in Horsham and Stawell every week. It will just increase access to all the programs we run. -  it just allows us to do that without hindrance.” 

The Children’s Charity Variety aims to help children who are sick, disadvantaged or have special needs to reach their full potential in life through issuing grants, scholarships, running programs and hosting kids events. 

Variety is able to secure funds through initiatives like their yearly fundraiser called the “Variety Bash” a  rally where participants travel thousands of kilometres to visit towns, stopping into schools and organisations to visit the children along the way. 

The bash started in 1985, when entrepreneur Dick Smith took a group of intrepid motorists from Bourke NSW to Bourketown Queensland in old cars, raising $250,000 for charity along the way.

Variety Volunteer Steven Donnellon said all the funds raised through the event go back into supporting children throughout Australia. 

“Throughout the year we run our major events, where we run our variety bash, where we raised $1.88 million. We have about 350 people who participate in that, they all fundraise individually, Mr Donnellon said. 

He said it was positive to see the students receive an updated mode of transport. 

“The bus we gave to the WSDS about 15 years ago is a bit old and tired so we’re very happy today to provide a safer updated bus to the kids, it’s got all the safety controls and things like that.” 

“I believe you’ve got to give something back. 

“My wife has a very famous saying ‘How do you know that if you don’t help one of these kids, that they’re not one of the ones that could find a cure for cancer one day?’. Everybody deserves an opportunity in life, it would be a pretty selfish work if we took everything and never gave anything back.”