8 December 2008

The University of Queensland Bridge Volunteer Organisation has recently donated more than $2000 to the McIntyre Centre in Pinjarra Hills, which provides pony-riding lessons to disabled children.

UQ Bridge was established in 2001 with the aim of developing strong ties between the University and the wider community.

It is Australia’s first student-formed and led volunteer organisation and puts students in contact with a variety of charities in areas ranging from animal care to youth services.

Health Vice-President John O’Bryen said he first became aware of the organisation in 2007.

“The altruistic nature of the club was appealing, so I became a member,” Mr O’Bryen said.

“Being able to provide community organisations and charities with donations or UQ student volunteers is a rewarding experience.

“All those who contribute to the success of the Bridge derive much satisfaction from being able to offer something to the greater community. We were humbled by the McIntyre Centre’s appreciation of the donation.”

The McIntyre Centre’s Julie Tom said organisations such as her own would struggle without groups like UQ Bridge.

“The McIntyre Centre relies heavily on the support and generosity of our community because without that involvement we would struggle to provide the valuable riding lessons we offer to over 160 children per week with disabilities,” she said.

“The children who come to our centre either have physical, intellectual or sensory disabilities and through our riding programs they are able to drastically improve their balance, co-ordination and muscle development.”

Ms Tom said the children also gain huge amounts of self-confidence, trust, leadership and communication skills.

“But above all, the joy and excitement they show through their laughter and the smiles on their faces says it all,” she said.

This year’s Simplicity Ball, hosted by UQ Bridge, raised almost $1000 for the McIntyre Centre which was added to a further $1200 raised from previous events.

Mr O’Bryen said he encouraged UQ students to get involved and make a difference in their community.

“The Bridge is always looking for eager volunteers and appreciates whatever time its members are able to contribute,” he said.

Media: Jason Tin or Cameron Pegg at UQ Communications (07 3365 2049, c.pegg@uq.edu.au)