Karen O'Mahony, founder of the Masquerade Ball Rainbow Club for Autism, has been named December ‘Cork Person of the Month’. Her name will go forward for possible selection as ‘Cork Person of the Year’ at a Gala Awards Lunch on January 20, 2017, at the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Through the Rainbow Club, based at Mahon Community Centre, Karen and her team provide therapeutic support for children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. The Rainbow Club provides much needed support for parents and families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Karen O'Mahony and her husband Jon are themselves parents to two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), so they have first hand knowledge and understanding of the unique needs of the affected children and their families.
"It was always my dream to set up a group that caters for their needs 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," said Karen.
The Rainbow Club is run entirely on a voluntary basis and depends on donations and grants. The annual Masquerade Ball is one source of funding for the team and last year they were lucky enough to receive funding from KBC Bank’s National Bright Ideas award scheme. This funding was used to equip a specially constructed indoor and outdoor Sensory Area at the Rainbow Club.
The club caters for 226 children and their families, from pre-school right up to 18-year-olds, throughout Cork City and county. The dedicated specialist team is supported by 26 volunteers who provide a range of critical services to children and their families, including speech and play therapies, sports activities and drama.
"My son started at the Rainbow Club last year, following his diagnosis with autism. At the time he was having very serious behavioural problems and it was a time of crisis for our family. Thanks to the help and support of Karen and the Rainbow Club, my son's life has completely turned around," said one parent.
"Cork suffers from a severe lack of early intervention services, with waiting lists that are never-ending. Without the Rainbow Club, I am sure that my children would not be achieving their full potential, and we will be forever grateful to Karen and her team of volunteers and therapists," said another parent.
Karen O'Mahony received her ‘Cork Person of the Month’ award at a ceremony held in the Rainbow Club at Mahon Community Centre.
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