Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Park Avenue Relieved to Get Funding

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Park Avenue Relieved to Get Funding

Article excerpt

Byline: Jann Houley

IT'S "full steam ahead" for a Park Avenue early childhood development program, following the announcement it will share in $63million funding for children with a disability.

Twelve centres in Central Queensland - from Barcaldine to Yeppoon, and Moranbah to Mundubbera - will continue to enrol children who are diagnosed with a range of special needs.

No-one knows better than Gail Ilott the benefits of early diagnosis and community education when it comes to easing each child's transition to the classroom.

Mrs Ilott taught at Rockhampton's Special School for seven years before serving as an advisory teacher around the region, and completing her Masters degree in working with children with autism.

As the head of student engagement at Park Avenue School, she oversees the Early Childhood Development Program, which services the whole region in making students ready for school, and the schools a welcome place for each student.

"Their autism makes them who they are, they being a whole new way of looking at the world," she said.

"Once you look through their eyes, it's really exciting and never boring."

Park Avenue principal, Helen Heery, points to a cohort of her students, who began with the program and are now close to graduating as the school's top achievers as evidence of the ECDP's success.

"Thanks to the early intervention program, they confidently entered prep with school-ready behaviour," she said.

"Not only the student but also their family and teachers are provided with the routines and skills it takes to achieve an almost seamless transition.

"We can work so well with kids that were, once upon a time, thought to be a mystery or plain naughty."

The Park Avenue program employs specialist educators as well as experts in occupational therapy, speech pathology, vision and hearing impairment and nursing.

But it prides itself most on establishing a family's trust in making the world of difference to their children. …

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