Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
My name is Karen O'Mahony my husband Jon and I set up This club to help and support children and their families living with Autism. With the shortage of services children & young adults with Autism at it highest in Cork. We found a huge gap in support. We saw a huge lack of support for all the family, lack of parent training, information and help for family and the area of challenges in the triad the social communication that children needed help to learn social skills make friends be accepted and helped through difficulties ASD brings to them daily. We had started with 22 children in 2015 and we now to date have 400 in the club getting help and support and 225 on a waiting list but accessing some activities where available. We are trying to bridge the gap helping the children overcome challenges that will inhibit them in their future. Making friends, turntaking finishing, getting along with others, sharing space, learning to interact in play and also be able to achieve in areas that they can all the time being supported by our amazing volunteers. Life with ASD can be hard for many and can affect the way of life for many, their time with us is fun and supportive, enjoying play in an environment that they can cope with and when calm and relaxed so much can be achieved.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
We opened in 2015 and had 22 children to date we have 400 children and 225 we are also supporting
We had 9 volunteers we now have 62. We have built and grown our ASD sports programme successfully, built and grown ASD music programme,helped families and parents of the children make friendships and grow a large support network.
428 parents have gone training courses with us to date. We have now 5 therapists working with families
Started in our sports 12 children now we have 32 children rotating in sports every 6 weeks
We now have mentorship programme for our older teens and 3 have done ADAPTIVE COACHING course and certified under support from our volunteers and these young adults volunteer now in spurts on Saturdays
All our volunteers upskill with us many have secured jobs in special needs. We started in 1 room we now have 3 rooms a portacabin for therapies and now an office. We won several awards for our work in Cork city and we also won national awards.
We work alongside Cork Sports Partnership to expand our sports
We take students for work experience and placement
Our advocacy now also helps families and we also educate others about ASD
What has the overall impact of the work been?
We have been able to help families grow and get support after diagnosis, we have brought parents together building friendships and this is a huge support. We have acheived awards in sports , youth group awards, national winners of KBC BANK BRIGHT IDEAS, won runners up st CARA INCLUSION awards last year.
We are the only club of this kind in cork and county , we support many families inside and outside club, we work with other groups raising awareness of autism. We hold ASD FRIENDLY days and events, we raise funds for schools struggling with resources , we have 5 therapists that work with our volunteers , parents and the children. We work alongside Garda I snd cork fire station on spreading awareness. Local businesses are huge support to us and also aware of ASD from working with us . We take part in St Patrick’s day parade each year and we won Best Youth Group in it. We hold ASD SANTA at Christmas allowing families the right supportive environment the families need for this experience we had 600 children attend last year and we held it over 3 weekends .
We do trips and we hold camps aswell
What makes this Organisation unique?
We are unique as there isn’t another organization that has this much to offer to ASD FAMILIES, Our numbers exceed all other groups , there is no model of this club . We have built it from the start building creating and organizing programmes around it. We don’t fall into criteria for a need to secure our own home in city building and we are giving supports to families that should be receiving these supports from HSE. We are empowering and educating parents helping and encouraging them to become less reliant on already strained services and we are looking after one of the IMPAIRMENTS OF THE TRIAD AUTISM BRINGS TO A CHILDS LIFE , THE SOCIAL COMMUNICATION SND IMAGINATION DIFFICULTIES. We are creating a solid foundation and programmes for other groups to learn from and follow. All these factors make us unique and successful as our numbers grow each week with demands on us that are now making us look at a bigger premises to grow into over the many years ahead
How can the public support this work?
We rely on support from volunteers and fundraising , to date we have received No funding and we have built this club over 3 yrs raised over 300,000 euro to support our children with everything they need here. We have raised and given back to schools over 100,000 worth of equipment for units ASD children attend and we upskill our volunteers to hopefully all become core leaders and run groups .
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
Yes we have received our charitable status this year , we will be displaying our financial records on our website when it is finished and up running, we post each fundraiser st it is fine acknowledging on all our pages amount raised and thank you letters are issued always. We have an accountant and auditor . We have been on the journey for CODE IF GOVERNANCE and it has been submitted for approval . We have a great clean slate for incidents and no issues in safety . We do our very best to ensure safe environment for all children teens and our volunteers .