A Cork social club for children with autism has won the national Bright Ideas community award.
The Rainbow Club for Children with Autism was one of 300 community projects nationwide that applied for a share of KBC bank’s inaugural €100,000 “Bright Ideas” community support fund, with 40 shortlisted entries selected by local judges. Ten projects, including the Rainbow Club, had been selected for a national final, decided by a public vote.
Rainbow Club founder Karen O’Mahony said the group, entirely run by volunteers, was delighted with its unexpected win: “It’s fabulous. We’re still a bit in shock.”
Opened last June in Mahon Community Centre, the club focuses on helping children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to help develop social skills. The club facilitates 91 children with ASD and arranges activities such as sports, Lego clubs, and music therapy groups.
“There was no resource like this in the south of the country,” said Ms O’Mahony, who is the mother of two boys with ASD, aged five and nine.
“So it was our dream to set up something that caters to their needs. The Rainbow Club is very supportive to children on the spectrum, and provides visual, tactile, and social stimulation. This helps ASD children to learn to interact with other children and to accept change without getting stressed.”
The club is also a supportive social environment for the families of children anywhere on the autism spectrum, from those with Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism) to children more severely affected.
Winning the “Brightest Idea” award has secured the club funding worth €7,500. Ms O’Mahony said it would be spent on equipment for indoor and outdoor play, vital in aiding the development of co-ordination skills for ASD children. “We want to help as many children as we can to improve the quality of their lives and futures. Some of the equipment is very expensive so this award will really help,” she said.
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