Touched by Olivia Foundation has run on the physical and financial support of you, our friends and network. While we are up to our elbows in wrapping paper and packing for holidays, it’s time to send you some gratitude and reflect on how your support has helped make our dreams for 2011 come true.

Since inception, we’ve had two goals to increase the health and happiness of children 1) to improve the awareness and support of people suffering from vascular disease, in particular lymphatic malformations and 2) to ensure there was an inclusive playground in reach of every community in need. We’d worked out that there were 42 locations across the nation, and set about a 10 year plan to make this happen. Early 2011, this strategy really kicked into gear as we added to our play ground network numbers 3 and 4 – Livvi’s Place Dubbo and Livvi’s Place Hawthorne Park.

There’s a stack of new sites under development across Australia in partnership with governments, businesses and communities including Livvi’s Place Ryde, NSW, Pia’s Playground, Whiteman Park, WA, Penrith, NSW, Jindabyne, NSW, and St Albans, VIC all scheduled for 2012, plus a host of other locations in various stages. Every project has a dedicated community driver who’d love your support. If you can volunteer your skills and time, or if you are a business who’d like to sponsor a piece of play equipment or contribute in any way, we’d love to hear from you. Pleasedrop us a line to make a huge difference to the kids of Australia for many generations.

In November, we were awarded the International Innovation Award for the Inclusive Play Space Network and headed over to Hangzhou, China as guests of the World Leisure Organisation. One of the key deciders for the award is that “the project should be “inspirational” or demonstrate a “feel good” factor.”

While there were many highlights of the conference, the stand out was watching hundreds of international delegates watching our presentation with huge smiles on their faces.

A few days later, we headed to Parliament House in Canberra as a nominee for the National Disability Awards for our contribution to creating inclusive and accessible communities. An inspiring ceremony, we returned super charged to ensure our next event (the national event for International Day of People with Disabilty in partnership with Children with Disability Australia) delivered.

And it did. The unpredictable Sydney weather held for us, as the sun shone all day long over our flagship playground Livvi’s Place Five Dock. Families enjoyed the fun and free activities and amusements, and we welcomed Senator Jan McLucas, who shared with us the announcement that Touched by Olivia Foundation had been granted funds to host a national inclusive play consultation. The dream of an all abilities playground within reach of every family in need is closer to reality.

Continuing our fantastic fundraising efforts over the last 4 years, this May we hosted our fifth Butterfly Ball to support strategy 1. In true Touched by Olivia style, our guests embraced the Viva Las Vegas theme, enjoying performances from Tom Jones, Elvis himself and showgirls as well as our wonderful ambassador and MC, Jay Laga’aia. Thanks to our guests and generous sponsors we were able to raise $185,000 for the Touched by Olivia Vascular Birthmarks Fellowship at Sydney Children’s Hospital to continue their ground breaking research. In total, we have raised almost $1 million for the Sydney Children’s Hospital, helping position it as one of the leading facilitors of research into vascular disease. They have produced a number of medical publications, a clincal trial with fantastic results and allowed us to network with families from all over the world with kids who suffer from this family of diseases. Day by day we are moving closer to understanding the disease more and will continue to our efforts to one day find a cure.

(P.S. Don’t forget to try to spot yourself on Planet Cake – Lifestyle Food this Wednesday evening).

It’s been a full and productive year made possible thanks to you. The efforts of our amazing team of dedicated volunteers were recognised at the NSW Volunteer Team of the Year awards earlier this month at NSW Parliament House and we couldn’t be prouder of you all. The TBO family is a generous spirited, playful and positive group of talented and passionate individuals who embody the saying “be the change that you want to see in the world”.

We look forward to continuing to share the journey with you in 2012. Until then, may the force be with you and yours this holiday period.

From all the gang at Touched by Olivia Foundation

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