BIG DIFFERENCE: Kerry Varraud, Matt Lewis, Brad Deas and Dani Rose from Blue Dog Training with Christine Anderson from Variety (centre back row) and Ipswich Special School students Aaron Vogler, Elexis Wardle and Shayne Sheather.
BIG DIFFERENCE: Kerry Varraud, Matt Lewis, Brad Deas and Dani Rose from Blue Dog Training with Christine Anderson from Variety (centre back row) and Ipswich Special School students Aaron Vogler, Elexis Wardle and Shayne Sheather. Rob Williams

Special school playground a reality after $40,000 donation

A PLACE for children of all abilities to play together at Ipswich Special School has been a dream for principal Bruce Grigg for the past eight years.

It will soon be a reality.

Blue Dog Training donated $40,000 to the school from its sensational fundraising efforts as part of the 2019 Variety Bash, which will go towards a playground to be installed in time for the 2020 school year.

The business was a major sponsor of the Queensland charity motoring event, with participants driving from Mackay to the Gold Coast and stopping in at schools and organisations to visit the children who its efforts would assist.

The event has raised more than $230million nationally for youngsters in need since its inception.

As major sponsor of the 2019 Variety Bash in Queensland, Blue Dog Training raised in excess of $77,000.

A "seven senses" sensory playspace was out of reach under its existing fundraising efforts.

Mr Grigg, who took over the reins from long-term principal Peter Davis in 2011, said it was an "enormous" contribution.

"We've got 35 students in wheelchairs but we have another 70 students who aren't in wheelchairs," he said. "For them to be together and for them to play together we need to make sure our playgrounds are accessible to every student.

"The amount of money as soon as you start talking about playgrounds and disabilities... you're going to start increasing the cost enormously. We're just going through the procurement process at the moment and we're hoping that by Christmas or at least the beginning of next year we'll have a new playground suitable for all students in our school."

Blue Dog director Brad Deas said the training provider had been involved with children's charity Variety for six years.

The team's theme for 2019 was vikings and last year they raised money for a bus for Ipswich West Special School.

"It's a lot of fun for a great cause that makes a real difference to a hell of a lot of people," Mr Deas said.

"We had a young fella in Emerald this year who had muscular dystrophy or some sort of ailment with his muscles. He was about five-years-old and had never walked. He was given a custom built walker that could support his body weight and we watched him take his first steps.

"It's that sort of thing that makes Variety different and we have a lot of fun along the way. We heard three or four times on the Bash this year 'it's better than Christmas' or 'this is the best day ever'."

Mr Deas urged anyone who had the ability to contribute to the cause to do so, with a link on the Blue Dog Training Facebook page.

"If everyone does a little bit it does a lot," he said.

"I think obviously we need to look after our own first but then it gets to a point where if everyone contributes just a little bit, it makes a hell of a big difference.

"It's mum and dad and brothers and sisters that miss out because every resource in that family goes to a helping out that one child. That relief it brings to mum and dad even if it's for a short period of time, it makes a big difference.



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