Liberty Swing a fitting finale for principal's career

A new Liberty Swing enriches the exemplary model of special education at Passfield Park School nurtured by retiring principal Wendy Low. Pascal Adolphe reports.

Students and staff stand around the new swing. Students and staff stand around the new swing.
Image: Up, up and away for student Kathleen Craig as proud principal Wendy Low launches the Liberty Swing with Member for Macquarie Fields, Anoulack Chanthivong, and Passfield Park School Kids Inc Charity treasurer Jan Domanski.

Passfield Park School principal Wendy Low has always been in education to “make a difference”.

After a distinguished career mainly in special education, Ms Low will retire at the end of this term but not before a final important act of making a difference.

Ms Low last week joined the Member for Macquarie Fields, Anoulack Chanthivong, to launch a Liberty Swing at the Minto school where she has been principal since 2017.

The Liberty Swing is a world-first Australian innovation unveiled on ABC TV’s ‘New Inventors’ program in 2004 that allows children with disability, including those in wheelchairs, the opportunity to experience the joy of swinging.

For Passfield Park it was the latest addition to the state-of-the-art facilities in the redeveloped school for specific purposes, which has grown from 50 students in 2018 to 100 students in 2024. The school educates and cares for children from four to 18 years with a range of disabilities.  

Ms Low said the Liberty Swing would enhance inclusion at the school.

“Our students in a wheelchair cannot get on to a normal swing and that movement is very helpful for them," she said.

“We identified that the Liberty Swing is something that could be used by every student no matter whether they’re mobile or not.

“It's that inclusion. Everybody can be part of it. Everybody has enjoyment from it. Then the flow-on effect is good for the staff.”

A girl in a wheelchair on a swing with a lady standing beside her. A girl in a wheelchair on a swing with a lady standing beside her.
Image: Student Kathleen Craig enjoys the new Liberty Swing at Passfield Park School.

Contemplating retirement for Ms Low is “bittersweet”.

“I’m worried about how I’m going to get through my last week and my last formal assembly without crying; really bittersweet; really sad to be leaving … but I need to do this now for myself and my wellbeing,” she said.

Ms Low can be proud of her brilliant career in education.

“My passion has always been special education,” she said.

“I know it’s a cliché, but I love making a difference to the lives of students and to the families. I have a very holistic approach that it’s not just about the child, it’s about the wellbeing of the whole family.

“I’m choosing to do this. They didn’t choose to have a child with a disability and sometimes they don’t have the skills or capacity to understand how to parent a child with a disability.

“And that’s my role – it’s to help empower them, help them to be advocates for their child, help them to help their child reach their potential and to be the best they can be. That’s my purpose and I get very passionate about it.”

Mr Chanthivong welcomed the addition of the “simple but important piece of equipment” in the Liberty Swing and echoed the chorus of praise for Ms Low.

“Your passion, your commitment, your dedication to your kids at this school and to your staff and what you’ve created here is really something special,” he said.

“I’m so proud of what you’ve created here.

“They’re special kids and we want to make sure that myself as the local member and all of us pay them the special attention that the kids deserve.”

A man with a woman holding a bunch of flowers. A man with a woman holding a bunch of flowers.
Image: Principal Wendy Low with Member for Macquarie Fields, Anoulack Chanthivong.
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