Busi­ness Houses Race for Char­ity

mailife - - Contents - By PHOEBE SCHENK Photos SUPPLIED

You could ex­pect to en­counter wheel­bar­rows full of fresh pro­duce be­ing trot­ted through Suva’s mar­kets. But last month pedes­tri­ans had to dodge wheel­bar­rows rac­ing around Al­bert Park with an equally pre­cious cargo – the se­nior man­age­ment of Suva’s top cor­po­ra­tions. The Amaz­ing Wheel­bar­row Race is an in­no­va­tive fundrais­ing ac­tiv­ity or­gan­ised by the Frank Hil­ton Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which op­er­ates the Hil­ton Special School and Early In­ter­ven­tion Cen­tre for chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties. The or­gan­i­sa­tion aims to raise $150,000 to help cover the an­nual cost of pro­vid­ing th­ese in­te­gral ser­vices. ‘We were the first – and only – or­gan­i­sa­tion to set up a Pae­di­atric Phys­io­ther­apy Unit, Au­di­ol­ogy In­fant Screen­ing, and Com­pre­hen­sive Speech Ther­apy Pro­gramme,’ Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Mrs Sureni Per­era said. “The fact that we don’t limit our­selves by mak­ing do with what we have, but go out and take bold strokes to en­sure that our chil­dren will re­ceive the very best is what makes us an im­por­tant cause.”Fol­low­ing last year’s event, the or­gan­i­sa­tion is pi­lot­ing a com­mu­nity sup­port pro­gramme to go fur­ther in aid­ing fam­i­lies be­yond purely aca­demic as­sis­tance, as part of an in­di­vid­u­alised ap­proach that caters for chil­dren of all back­grounds and in­comes . “We be­lieve that chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties in Fiji right­fully de­serve ev­ery pos­si­ble op­por­tu­nity in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional stan­dards so they can grow into in­de­pen­dent in­di­vid­u­als. But as only 20% of costs are cov­ered by the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, ad­di­tional fundrais­ing measures are vi­tal to con­tinue pro­vid­ing qual­ity care free of charge to those that need it,” she said. The event has al­ready been suc­cess­ful in cap­tur­ing the hearts and imag­i­na­tions of the peo­ple of Suva with hun­dreds cheer­ing on from the side­lines. More than 13 teams com­pet­ing in Satur­day’s event in­clud­ing part­ners BlueS­cope, Asco Mo­tors, Fiji Wa­ter and Fiji Roads Author­ity, who adopted a dis­tinc­tive cus­tomised craft for the race to win the ‘Best Dec­o­rated Wheel­bar­row’. Not just an op­por­tu­nity for cor­po­rate phi­lan­thropy and team-build­ing, the Amaz­ing Wheel­bar­row Race has also pro­motes health and fit­ness through reg­u­lar prac­tice ses­sions guided by Zumba in­struc­tors, all while rais­ing aware­ness and vi­tal fund­ing for the char­ity. With a reg­is­tra­tion fee of $5000 for each team, the cur­rent fundrais­ing to­tal looks to dou­ble the $80,000 raised in dur­ing last year’s in­au­gu­ral event. With prize cat­e­gories rang­ing from best dressed team to most num­ber of par­tic­i­pants over 40, the race brought smiles to be­mused spec­ta­tors, but more im­por­tantly also to the chil­dren who di­rectly ben­e­fit from the pro­ceeds of this ‘Amaz­ing’ event. In pre­sent­ing the hand­made tro­phies cre­ated by Hil­ton Special School Vo­ca­tional Car­pen­try class, the Min­is­ter for Women, Chil­dren and Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion Mrs Mere­seini Vu­ni­waqa said that even though fundrais­ing is im­por­tant, what is of sig­nif­i­cance is ‘the col­lec­tive con­tri­bu­tion of unity and part­ner­ship’ in re­mov­ing the so­cial stigma sur­round­ing dis­abil­ity and en­sur­ing the chil­dren were at the cen­tre of the day.” Sec­ond-time win­ners were Blues­cope, who had the mes­sage ‘we do this, from our heart, for you chil­dren’.

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