Stuart Centre celebrates its 30th birthday
Founding families and local community honoured three decades after lobbying for permanent therapy centre in the Hunter for children with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities
NEWCASTLE, WEDNESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2013: Thirty years ago a Newcastle mother had a dream – a local therapy centre to provide vital support and services for local children with cerebral palsy.
Jill Stuart, along with a group of other Newcastle mothers, drove her son Michael to Sydney each week for therapy with the then Spastic Centre (now Cerebral Palsy Alliance). The day-long round trip was expensive, tiring and time-consuming, impacting on all the family.
‘It was difficult to keep travelling to Sydney’, Mrs Stuart recalls. ‘Having experienced a break- down outside Wyong on the old Pacific Highway, our families were concerned for our safety. We had four small children in the car and several children at home in Newcastle.’
So began Mrs Stuart’s mission to lobby for a permanent therapy centre in Newcastle for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. With a group of devoted parents, she rallied the community, local government and business. NBN Television dedicated its 1981 telethon to the cause, with the Newcastle Herald also throwing its support behind the fundraising drive.
In 1983, Mrs Stuart’s dream became reality when the former Spastic Centre opened the doors to its first permanent centre in the Hunter – the aptly named Stuart Centre at Croudace Bay.
‘I am delighted that 30 years on from that momentous occasion, Mrs Stuart joins us today in celebrating this milestone’, said Marelle Thornton AM, President of Cerebral Palsy Alliance at the 30th birthday celebrations at the Stuart Centre.
‘Her foresight, determination and sheer tenacity have changed the lives of quite literally thousands of local families whose children live with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
‘Thanks to the work of Mrs Stuart and our wonderful families, as well as all community members who rallied in response, children across two generations have now had access to state-of-the-art equipment, world-best therapy and professional support right here in the Hunter.’
Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s day-long celebrations in the Hunter culminated in one of Newcastle’s largest ever showcases of disability services at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club from 1-6pm.
The free showcase featured interactive sport and fitness activities for people with a disability; presentations about services, latest research, technology and equipment; as well as employment supports and options for adults with a disability and school leavers interested in a career in the sector.
Released on 4 Dec 2013