Monday, November 2nd, 2009
John and Justine Perkins, a young couple from St Marks Parish in Drummoyne, have turned their personal tragedy into a triumph for Australian children of all abilities.

Following the loss of their 8 month-old baby daughter Olivia to a rare illness called Lymphangioma, the couple founded the Touched by Olivia Foundation to bring health and happiness to children and families.

At the 3rd Annual Family Fun Fair on Sunday 15 November, this unique 100% volunteer driven organisation will officially open Livvi’s Place, Timbrell Park - Australia’s first ‘truly’ all abilities playground that aims to dramatically reduce the barriers experienced by children with special needs, thereby giving them a level playing field for life.

Livvi’s Place at Timbrell Park is the initiative of the Touched by Olivia Foundation and the result of a unique partnership of three founding partners, Touched by Olivia Foundation, City of Canada Bay and Leighton Contractors.

Following extensive research and consultation with authorities (in their field) including leading academics, play, disability and landscape experts, the partners have taken a holistic approach to address the needs of children with multiple forms of disability including: mobility, vision and hearing impairment as well as spectrum disorders such as autism to ensure a safe, secure environment where all children can play.

John Perkins, founder of Touched by Olivia Foundation said, “This is an Australian first and thanks to the founding partners, together we have been able to create Australia’s first truly all abilities playground setting a benchmark in world’s best practice in playgrounds for kids with special needs.”

Monsignor Vince Redden, of St Marks Parish praised the commitment of John and Justine Perkins in their service to the community saying, “I’ve known John for almost 30 years. In that time he has always shown a quiet dedication to others in the community however, following the family’s tragic loss, both John and Justine have shown tremendous courage, not only in overcoming their loss but, by turning their loss into something that will have a tremendous impact on this and I’m sure many communities in the future.”

The unique design of the playground and equipment enables children and parents of all abilities and ages to play side-by-side on the same equipment, regardless of age or ability, ensuring integration of children with special needs.

Sandra Casinader, mother of Kingsley and Indira (both have autism) is looking forward to the opening of Livvi’s Place saying, “When I saw the plans and read the detailed description I felt like someone has walked in my shoes and really get’s what goes on with children with spectrum disorders.

I actually started crying by the time I got to the details of the play equipment because every single thing that makes it so difficult for us and many of my friends in a similar situation to use a “typical” playground has been so completely addressed; the attention to detail is astounding,” she said.

Mayor Angelo Tsirekas of the City of Canada Bay said, "The opening of Livvi's Place is a fantastic achievement and a great milestone for everyone who has been a part of this project."

"Council has worked closely with Touched by Olivia and Leighton Contractors to bring Livvi's Place to fruition and I would like to thank everyone who has been involved along the way."

Mr Perkins invited everyone to join in the fun at the 3rd Annual Family Fun Fair and celebrate the opening of Livvi’s Place Timbrell Park - an Australian first that promises to improve the health and happiness of children.

‘By bringing Olivia’s Touch to others in need, we aim to create a positive change in the future of all our children,’ Mr Perkins said.

Family Fun Fair
Date Sunday 15 November 2008
Event Time 10:00am – 4:00pm
Media Call 9:50am – 11:30am (official opening of Livvi’s Place)
Location: Timbrell Park, Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock

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At the 3rd Annual Family Fun Fair on Sunday 15 November, this unique 100% volunteer driven organisation will officially open Livvi’s Place, Timbrell Park - Australia’s first ‘truly’ all abilities playground.


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