Spastic Centres of South Australia 60th year: Keith visits and talks a walk down memory lane in the Adelaide City region of South Australia

The Spastic Centres of South Australia or SCOSA has been helping people with Cerebral Palsy live their dreams for 60 years. Kids with Cerebral Palsy have the same desires, hopes and dreams as us all - it's just they have to work a bit harder. From 1950 SCOSA operated from the Woodville Campus where dozens of kids would arrive by a fleet of buses and spend their days in class, in therapy and in the care of a team of experts.

The Woodville Campus is no more because the kids are now out in the community but the memories and the drive of those who spent time here are still strong. We called together the remaining members of the Ladies Auxiliary for bit of a reminisce as they sorted through memorabilia for an upcoming 60th anniversary exhibition.

Outgoing President, Margaret Skrypek first came with her daughter Katrina in 1984 so it's been a big part of her life.

Margaret Scrybeck: "It was a support group to have other parents here. And the teachers were so good. I really miss it. This exhibition is going to be a kind of running reunion."

Darren Freeling started in 1970 and still loves to visit. His mum, Bev says mercifully, attitudes have changed.

Bev Freeling: "When Darren was small everybody seemed to think it was contagious and you had a pretty difficult time telling them 'no it's not contagious'. But with today's freedom, children now ask more questions as they're growing up and disability is accepted as a part of life. Where before people would cross the street rather than speak to now - now they cross the street to speak to you."

We also filmed a classic reunion between former Brenton, and his first teacher, Miss Daphne Gum. She began teaching Brenton in 1954 when he was just three.

All this started with Miss Gum. Now 94 and as sprightly as ever, she began South Australia's very first 'Spastic School' - in a single room at the Children's Hospital.

Daphne Gum: "It was one classroom in the midst of a busy hospital in the Outpatient Department. It was upstairs so sometimes the lift was off and we'd have to carry the children up. So that was out first school in 1946."

She had three students on that first day but word soon got out.

Miss Gum: "The children just came, they were there, waiting for this education. And we found the way through all sorts of need for education."

For the kids and the families it was a godsend - for the first time they were treated as 'real people' - with 'real' potential.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the Miss South Australia Quest. Between 1950 and 2000 thousands of young ladies across the state raised millions of dollars. When some of the previous winners get together memories come flooding back.

Gabrielle Overton, nee Clarke, was Miss SA in 1972. She now works with SCOSA full-time and is organizing the 60 year celebrations - including an ambitious retrospective exhibition.

Gabrielle Overton: "the Exhibition is called 'Having a Ball' and I guess because we had gowns and gloves, we all had formal balls and the logo of the Spastic Centre is the bouncing ball - happy, vibrant, we live, we play, we include - very much part of what we do so that's the theme of it. It's all about life over that 60 years, it's about disability, it's about celebration, it's about fund-raising, marketing and I think it's going to give people a sense of what happens in a 60 year period."

The "We're Having a Ball" 60 year exhibition opens on November 24 and runs until December 6 at the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at the UniSA City West campus on North Terrace. If you have any further questions please email

'We're having a Ball' 60 years of scosa exhibition
Nov 24 - Dec 6
Bob Hawke Centre
UniSA City West
50 North Terrace

Published 24th October 2010

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