WHERE DO SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS PLAY

Today, the director of a social business focused on changing how we conduct business in the 21st century, pledged $25,000 for a playground designed for children of all abilities to play together.

Renata Cooper, a social entrepreneur and businesswoman, started Forming Circles in 2011 to share her knowledge and good fortune from smart investments. As a long time supporter of Touched by Olivia Foundation, she knew that she wanted to find a project that she could financially and creatively support with this charity.

Touched by Olivia Foundation is an Australian charity, founded by John and Justine Perkins in 2007 after the loss of their eight month old daughter, Olivia. Touched by Olivia Foundation enables children to have healthier and happier lives through funding a medical research fellowship at Sydney Children’s Hospital to find a cure for the rare disease that took Olivia’s life. The second initiative is to build a network of inclusive playgrounds across Australia, where children and families can play side by side, regardless of ability.

“I’ve supported the Touched by Olivia Foundation for a number of years, attending their annual Butterfly Ball and I’m constantly impressed by the professionalism and fun they bring to life in events,” she said.

“As a mother who has experienced loss of children, I felt a real connection, and I knew that I wanted to make Touched by Olivia one of my key partners in our community platform at Forming Circles. I believe that every human being should have the right, and everyone should be included in the circle, whether it’s in the playground, school or business life, so playgrounds are a great partnership vehicle for us.”

Mrs Cooper founded Forming Circles to help amplify the voices of Australian’s who are either creative, entrepreneurial or in need of support.

“ Donating to Australian charities making a difference is a big deal for Forming Circles. As a company with a social conscious, we want to know where our funds are going, and how they are being used. Our relationship with the Foundation means that we can be part of the project and see the true benefit of the project we are helping to fund.”

The cheque was received by Touched by Olivia Foundation’s Founder, Justine Perkins.

“Touched by Olivia’s goal is to have an inclusive playground for every child in Australia. It’s a big goal, and a lot of funds need to be raised to make this happen. We are grateful for not just the financial support of Forming Circles, but also for the community support. Forming Circles has a wonderful group of people all dedicated to making a greater Australian community, which is what we are all about at Touched by Olivia – bringing all people together, regardless of difference”, said Mrs Perkins.

“We’ve found in our research that if a child under the age of five plays with child with a disability, they learn to accept them as they would a kids with red hair, or blue eyes. What we are doing is creating a generational change in the way the disabled community is included in all aspects of life.”

The Forming Circles grant of $25,000 will be used to purchase equipment for the Livvi’s Place Inclusive Playground under development in Ryde, NSW, due to open in the second half of 2012. Touched by Olivia is rolling out a network of inclusive playgrounds across Australia with 42 sites earmarked and seven projects currently in development, including Ryde. This strategy was recently awarded the World Leisure Innovation Award at the annual conference in China, and was nominated for the National Disability Inclusive Community Award.

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