Sir Michael Parkinson helped celebrate 25 years of RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool!

Sir Michael and Lady Mary Parkinson visited RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool to celebrate its 25th anniversary

Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) welcomed a visit from Sir Michael Parkinson on Tuesday 4 March, celebrating 25 years of RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool.

Originally opened in 1989 in North Parramatta, RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool was named in honour of the mascot that Sir Michael created specifically for RIDBC when he first became involved with the charity. The preschool was purpose-built to cater for the needs of children with hearing loss.

“The outcomes for children who are deaf or have hearing loss, 25 years on from the opening of the preschool, are quite phenomenal,” said RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn. “The vast majority of children now go on to mainstream school and really achieve to their full potential.”

The preschool opened just four years after the first child received a cochlear implant in Australia at 10 years of age.

“Now, most of our children are diagnosed with hearing loss at birth and begin early intensive intervention soon after,” said Mr Rehn. “What we now know is that early access to language improves the outcomes for these children and children now receive cochlear implants from six months of age, really accelerating their progress.”

One of the early graduates from RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool, Tim Palmer, completed high school in 2012 with an ATAR score of 93.85%. Tim will this year study Human Movement and International Studies at university.

“Tim is profoundly deaf and received his first cochlear implant at two years of age,” said Mr Rehn. “We are so proud of the outcomes that can now be achieved for children like Tim and we are delighted that Sir Michael will be joining us to meet with some of the children and their families during his time in Australia.”

RIDBC Rockie Woofit Preschool moved to its current North Rocks location in 1994. It is a reverse integration preschool, meaning that hearing children from the community also attend and are excellent language and learning models for their peers.

RIDBC is Australia’s largest provider of services for children with hearing or vision loss, assisting thousands of children a year across Australia. As Australia’s premier provider of training and education for professionals in the field of sensory disability, RIDBC also ensures that services delivered throughout government and non-government organisations remain cutting-edge.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in children's lives.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.