Online Fundraising for Clubs, Schools and Causes

20KforKilimanJ

As a mother of six children, four on the autism spectrum, two of whom attend both Sonas Junior School and Shine Early Learning Unit and a recipient of an assistance dog with the Irish Guide Dogs, I am very passionate about raising funds for these organizations as I see first hand the difference that they can make for families living with autism.

Being recently diagnosed with Aspergers myself this year, I want to take this challenge on and prove that anyone can make a difference when you have the determination, drive and support behind you. People have always been very supportive of my journey to date and I am lucky enough to have a bit of help undertaking this mahoosive task as I have roped in a few more, there are currently four of us signed up including Laura Crowley Manager of Educational Support Services in Shine Centre for Autism, who said people will pay to see her in a tent alone, I hope to have a group of six of us in total, who are all absolutely bricking it but determined to do this.

We are under no illusions as to how much of challenge this will be, we will be undergoing individual training for the next few months and will hope to have some events throughout the year in aid of our goal.

We are covering the cost of our own trek, by paying half of the €4k cost pp ourselves and having a sponsor who will cover the rest as per individual, as we really want to donate all fundraising direct to the charities. The always supportive Evening Echo will be covering a monthly feature where I will be talking about it all and updating everyone on the process right up to the actual journey itself. 

We have to climb 19,341 ft and are asking if people could sponsor us €1 per foot. We are aiming for #20KforKilimanJ and would love if people could get behind it, share this, donate a euro, host a coffee morning etc.. 

The onus being that all monies raised will be split between Sonas, Shine and the Irish Guide Dogs which will in turn help other children and their families down the line, who are in need of their services, keeping the cycle going and paying it forward.

Why them, you ask?

Well lads in an ideal world, Id fundraise for everyone as there are so many worthy charities and schools, I think it is imperative right now to support those who I have a personal connection with and can stand behind and say are life changing for families, including ours.

Having a child/ren with special or additional needs, first of all the lack of school places is a huge problem right now, so even finding a school is something, but one where your child is given life skills, toileting skills, being helped to communicate and encouraged as per their individual needs is huge. They help to give them a foundation which sets them up for their future, the work done by both Sonas and Shine is monumental in helping families, which I have witnessed first hand. 

Shine Centre for Autism are based in Carrigaline, Co. Cork and work with children and teenagers aged between 2.5yrs and 16 years of age. They work with approx 80 children and teenagers, their parents, carers and educators on a weekly basis. Two of my own children have attended Shine ELU and if you have been following my Out in the Sticks with Six page you will have seen our journey and witnessed the difference that their services have made. 

Our family has availed of the free counselling for parents and a workshop for siblings with autism. My children run in there and wait patiently for the door to open, it is like a switch has been flicked, they light up and they just come on in leaps and bounds, making huge strides both socially and in a learning capacity. They learn skills we can then transfer to home, like drinking from a cup, potty training, eating, they have been instrumental in supporting us, as parents in our journey and the hundreds of other parents with the free advocacy service they provide.

You always hear people talk about the importance of early intervention, at Shine they provide this and more. The Shine Centre is part funded by the HSE Disability Services and Dept of Special Education. This funding does not cover the cost of the services they provide, they need to raise in excess of €100,000 per annum to keep all of their services and programmes running. 

Sonas Junior Special School is an Early Intervention school for children aged 3-6 years with a diagnois of Autism. The school was set up in 2003 by the Department of Education and Science and is located in Carrigaline, outside Cork. Each class of six pupils is taught by a fully qualified teacher working with a team of 2-3 special needs assistants. The philosophy of Sonas is that each child is an individual with certain unique capacities and talents and are taught accordingly. 

My son is in his second year here and it is a huge part of his life, he has become this independent and happy little boy who waits by the door each morning for his bus to travel to school. He not only has made friends, which as parents of a child with additional or special needs you always worry about, but he has availed of this amazing social setting and been introduced to things like music and art therapy, they all go on outings as a class even to the local shop to learn the basics of buying an item, they then have brought those items back to the school and they have even tried cookery. My son has learned huge life skills, like how to dress independently, how to communicate using his core board and pecs and can now verbalise how he is feeling using emotions, something as simple as this means huge reductions in anxiety and meltdowns in our household as he is now being understood.

Last year monies raised helped cover the costs of tax and insurance for a mini bus that was generously donated to the school which now takes the students on outings like swimming or to parks outside the local vicinity.  I cannot express how much each child is treated with the utmost of care and respect, not just my own child but any child of a parent you talk to who has attended Sonas. They are in the process right now of building a new school as the current accommodations mean the 42 students who attend there are split between two buildings across the town of Carrigaline which isn't ideal. Any monies raised will be used towards therapies the children need throughout the school year and hopefully towards any of their additional costs and needs for the new and or current dwelling. 

Everyone will be familiar with the Irish Guide Dogs and the amazing work that they provide, not only for those who are visually impaired but also for families living with autism with their assistance dog programme. We were one of 60 lucky families chosen nationwide through a strict application process earlier this year to avail of this amazing service. 

The help of an assistance dog can be life changing for families, it is personally speaking for our family, the difference between leaving the house or not. An assistance or guide dog can give independence and safety to my child and create a sense of massive independence and accomplishment. We have never been on a holiday together, never been to a restaurant, haven't ever taken the kids to a cinema, even the thoughts of being able to get our dog a pet passport and being able to travel is mind blowing for us, Jesus, even the thoughts of going for a meal is a huge achievement and with our assistance dog this will be possible in time.

The dogs were initially trained as a safety aid to prevent a child from bolting and being a flight risk but now the Irish Guide Dogs have found benefits such as improved communication skills, social activites, more confidence etc. We have been matched with our dog and I go for training the end of October. As a family who has multiple children on the spectrum this will make a massive difference for all of us as I know that our dog will help not just one child but all of my children. 

They receive 85% of their income through voluntary donations and fundraising, it will cost €5 million to run their organization just this year. The work done is phenomenal, from volunteers who help with puppy raising and socialisation, right up to age 14 months where they are early training with an instructor learning how to cross roads, stop at kerbs, deal with traffic, noise, take on public transport, learn how to behave in restaurants. They have to reach a very high standard to become a qualified guide or assistance dog. 

At 22 months old, having been matched with their owner they attend residential classes together at the training centre in Cork, this is what I will be doing shortly. Once the dog and their owner return home, the instructors will do a lot of visits to make sure all is going well and maybe help with local routes or particular needs the family has. 

A guide/assistance dog will then retire at the age of 10, where they hand back their jacket and sometimes be rehomed with a family, if the particular person requires a new dog to help with living, in a lot of circumstances the families will keep their dog as a pet for the remainder of their life. The process is amazing but it costs €52,000 to train each dog. Any monies raised will go back to these amazing people to help train a dog for another visually impaired person or for an assistance dog to help another family. 

Any donation, however small would be hugely appreciated for all, thank you for your support. 

If you would like to help and participate in your school, choose our fundraiser as your donation through work or even host a coffee morning please message me. I have a fantastic idea in particular for schools which will give back and support them also, I can send any teachers, parents or principals the info on how to get involved with this. 

#20KforKilimanJ

: http://www.instagram.com/outinthestickswithsix

Supporters

227
19-11-2019

Ciara Barry Ref

124.00
18-11-2019

Sandra hackett

130.00
18-11-2019

Ulrika Holbrook Ref

46.00
18-11-2019

Elaine Fitzgibbon Ref

90.00
18-11-2019

Karla A

20.00
18-11-2019

Niamh Wilson Ref

58.00

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