GRATEFUL: Hannah Avis, Bek Atkins and Kassidy, 9 with Craig Marriott and Steve Wakerley from Variety.
GRATEFUL: Hannah Avis, Bek Atkins and Kassidy, 9 with Craig Marriott and Steve Wakerley from Variety. Paul Braven GLA080217BUS

'Dream come true': Bus puts smile on kids' faces

IT'S been five years in the making but Rosella Park School finally have the wheels going on a new school bus.

The school had been trying to scrape together funds for a larger and disabled-friendly bus for many years.

Rosella Park School principal Kate Russ said their new bus was a dream come true for the special needs school.

"It's a dream that's come to reality,” she said.

"It makes us more of an inclusive school and enables all our students to be able to access the local community which they all should be able to do.

"It strengthens us as a school community and enables us to give the kids more opportunities they need to grow and learn as individuals as they move through their schooling.”

The 21-seater bus has undergone a $50,000 makeover to accommodate six wheelchair students.

Fundraising for the bus, dubbed the 'Sunshine Coach', began four years ago after a large influx of students made their original 12-seater bus redundant.

"We had quite a big enrolment increase around five years ago,” Ms Russ said.

"A part of that enrolment was also an increase in students with a physical impairment... we now have 10 to 11 students in wheelchairs so what that meant is we couldn't transport those students to go on camps or into the community without relying on taxi services which become very expensive.”

The school raised its own funds and also applied successfully for a Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant, worth $35,000.

But Rosella Park couldn't have achieved their goal without help from the community and the Variety Club of Queensland.

Variety Queensland chief executive officer Steve Wakerley said the charity got involved as the cost of the school bus was so high.

"(Rosella Park) approached Variety to assist and as you can imagine a $110-$120,000 project is very difficult for a school of this nature to raise this kind of money,” Mr Wakerley said.

"We organised the Variety Gala Ball in Gladstone last October and through the generous support of the local community we were able to raise $30,000 out of that event and Variety contributed a total of $55,000.

"Variety find in places like central Queensland they are really determined to raise money for their own community.

"Their generosity and willingness to get involved is incredible and uplifting.”