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Cork Independent


142 kids on club wait list

Thursday, 16th February, 2017 1:01am

A voluntary club in Mahon now has a waiting list of 142 children with autism, having started the club with 22 children a little over 18 months ago.

Such is the demand for services for children with autism in Cork, the Rainbow Club, located in Mahon Community Centre, caters for 239 children. The level of need for its services is so high that the club needs a larger premises.

The team at the Rainbow Club help the children develop their social skills and enjoy a range of activities like music, art and speech and drama among others.

Karen O’Mahony and her husband John have two sons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They opened the Rainbow Club in July in 2015.

They have 42 volunteers working with them; some are parents of children but others just want to help.

Karen told the Cork Independent: “We’re expanding hugely. We’ve 142 on the waiting list. Because we are the only club of its kind, it’s going to be sought-after. It’s been recommended to lots of parents. But we can’t take any more children.” 

Karen says that they are really proud that it has grown but they are frustrated too, because they know they can help so many more families who need it.

“We’re supporting social interaction, life skills and (helping) children to be able to learn and overcome challenges. It’s a bubbly place, it’s a vibrant place and it’s a happy place,” said Karen.

The Rainbow Club starts at 1pm and can run up until 9pm and caters for children on all scales of the autism spectrum from ages one-17. Karen is receiving phone calls daily asking if there is room in any of the groups.

Karen added: “There isn’t enough hours in the day and there isn’t for space for us anymore. We have just two rooms that we are working in, so obviously if we had more rooms we could be running more groups at the same time in the different rooms.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Nicholas O’Keeffe brought the matter to the attention of Cork City Council at Monday’s meeting of the local authority and appealed for anyone who knew of a premises, public or private, to contact the Rainbow Club.

Paul Moynihan, Director of Services, Corporate and External Affairs said the Department will make contact with the Rainbow Club to determine their specific accommodation needs and help with possible options and locations, which Cllr O’Keefe welcomed.

Classes at the Rainbow Club include those like art, music and speech and drama among others and the groups range from six to 10 children in size. Cllr O’Keeffe said they often bring in occupation therapists and language experts too to help the children.

He told the Cork Independent: “The work they are doing is phenomenal. If anyone knows of a public or private property out there (that is available), contact the Rainbow Club because they may not be aware of something that’s out there that could be suitable for them. They have so much resources available, it’s just space that is limited,” he added.

For those who might know of suitable location, contact Karen on 086- 0805810 or John on 089-2380838.



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