New funds buy fun

THERE'S a whole lot of song and dance happening at KidzWish's Shell Cove home.

For the past three years, the children's charity has run The KidzWish Music and Dance Program for Special Children.

Now, an injection of funds will result in the expansion of the already popular program.

KidzWish was founded in 2004 by Chris Beaven to provide support, love and laughter to sick, disabled and disadvantaged children.

About 15 children take part in the program's fun-filled activities each week.

The newly expanded music and dance program, funded by the Oak Flats Community Bank and Shellharbour branch of Bendigo Bank, is now under way. The branches have donated $45,000 towards the program.

The donation will enable KidzWish to make improvements to the current program, which helps to improve children's health and motor skills through social interactions.

Last Wednesday afternoon, KidzWish commenced the revamped weekly program, featuring more structured lessons and reaching more special children in the Illawarra.

The funds bought more equipment and employed a program co-ordinator and two casual staff.

Mrs Beaven said the children really responded to the musical sounds.

"Music seems to be the thing that really sets them on fire," she said. "They like the sounds of things and the comradeship."

She said it was important that parents and siblings also attended, so the children didn't feel they were on their own.

Mrs Beaven said they hoped to further expand the program to a school in the area in 2013.

The Bendigo Bank was alerted to the program by KidzWish ambassador and Oak Flats branch customer Max Lukmann.

"They look after the disadvantaged and disabled kids within our community," Shellharbour branch manager Steve Wiaczek said.

"They do so well in our community, and that's part of our ethos, to look after the Shellharbour community."

The Community Bank model means the public's banking business generates income which is distributed back into the community. The two branches have donated more than $350,000 in the past year to charities and community organisations, and $1.4 million during the past 10 years.

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