EXCITED: Mike Moloney, Peter Bailey, Kevin Pokarier, Daniel Roussounis, Cameron Millar and Denis Kiely from Emerald Rotary Club.
EXCITED: Mike Moloney, Peter Bailey, Kevin Pokarier, Daniel Roussounis, Cameron Millar and Denis Kiely from Emerald Rotary Club. Taylor Battersby

Rotary gets green light

MEMBERS of the Rotary Club of Emerald are "over the moon” to receive $20,000 from a round of recent Central Highlands Regional Council community grants to go toward the $300,000 'all-abilities' playground set for Rotary Park.

Club president Ross Drayton said this week the group had been planning for the park for the past three years, and he was now hoping Stage 1 would get under way in June or July.

"We're totally delighted and ever grateful for the support,” Mr Drayton said.

He said the local Rotary group had also raised $150,000 to be used for the park, which was "a lot of sausages over many years”.

"We've had a couple of great events including the Duck Dash, which the community supported extremely well and the annual Kestrel Charity Golf Day.

"The most gracious supporters are our community who support us at regular raffles and at events like Carols by Candlelight.”

Mr Drayton said a shed or a roof would first be constructed for the workers, while all the swings, or 'elements', for the park had now been ordered.

"The theme of the park is to 'integrate not isolate',” he said.

"And it will be designed in the theme of a train.

"So we will have children of full abilities and all abilities playing together in a safe environment.”

He said the idea for the park had been developed as a way to create a sense of "belonging” among all members of the community.

All-abilities playgrounds have grown in popularity as they have been promoted for providing sensory, motor, imaginative and educational aspects of play and are built to allow children with disability to play outdoors side by side with their friends and siblings.

It is hoped the new park will also benefit Emerald Hospital, located across the road, as it will provide a space for people travelling with children to take a break.

"Children travel a long way to Emerald for treatment and if they need a rest from their procedures this will allow them to go to the park and have a play and some lunch,” Mr Drayton said.

Other key fundraising events are to be held to help complete the park.

"We're also looking to build a branding wall for local cattle producers and have a brass plaque with their names on it.

"Individuals and companies will also be able to 'sponsor' a rail sleeper and the motto will be, 'All aboard our Rotary train'.”

Mr Drayton said fundraising efforts would be increased at the weekly Lions Markets where the popular 'mini' train operated on the first Sunday of every month.

Private and public sector funding would also be sought as plans and construction continue.

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