AIB donation for Zoom activities help ‘brighten days’ for children with disabilities

donationSpraoi agus Spórt, a multi-award winning social enterprise in Carndonagh, has welcomed a
€500 donation from AIB to help facilitate a unique series of fun online Zoom activities aimed
at supporting children and young people with disabilities during the Covid-19 restrictions.
Co-founder and CEO of Spraoi agus Spórt Helen Nolan said: “We are delighted to receive this
generous donation from AIB which is helping us to provide a wonderful new service that will
benefit approximately 50 families in Inishowen.
“Indeed, this donation is helping us to create a unique series of fun and creative online Zoom
activities for children and teenagers with a disability and/or autism which is brightening up
their days and is helping parents and carers to cope with the lockdown.
“Covid-19 has been an overwhelming challenge for families of children with disabilities – not
least because of the absence of a daily routine, missing friends and family members, or the
support that they would normally have access to from healthcare professionals.
“Indeed, the stresses of self-isolation is particularly acute and unsettling for children and
young people with disabilities.
“Our fantastic new Zoom activities are therefore not only aimed at educating and entertaining
children and teenagers in a creative way but are also helping parents in terms of respite or
their child’s mental health and wellbeing.
“Our many fun activities include how to make things at home, art demonstrations, online
music / singing and story time sessions.
“Indeed, since we first went ‘live’ with our Zoom meetings on 20 April, we’ve had a great
response and really positive feedback from parents – many sending us messages saying how
much they value the new resource.
“The new Zoom activities are therefore benefitting families who are feeling isolated and alone
due to the lockdown – and importantly their children are now making what can be best
described as ‘joyous reconnections’ with their friends from Spraoi.
“Some examples of messages sent to us by parents expressing their delight at the new service
includes a family who said: “We are feeling very blessed that Spraoi agus Spórt have begun
offering services to our family to support our child with autism to cope with the incredible
change in routine as a result of Covid-19. It allows us to add the designated times to his
schedule and bulks out his day. He enjoys following along with the art projects and
particularly likes seeing his friends on the group call. The group are putting lots of effort into
the support in the means of videos and links to arts. It is much appreciated and eases some
of the anxiety felt by our son”.

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“Another example from a mother who is availing of the Zoom service said: “Our daughter has
a moderate general learning disability (GLD) and is very sociable. She has been missing school
and the social contact of her friends terribly and has been very difficult to manage in the home
(during the lockdown). When Spraoi suggested the Zoom meetings I wasn’t sure if she would
like them because she is non-verbal. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! The tutor talks to
each child by name and gives them a chance to respond in the group. She loves the art demos,
story time and music and above all, the familiar friendly faces that she knows from Spraoi.
She looks forward to each Zoom meeting and it has added purpose and fun to her day!”
Donations are ‘vital’
Spraoi agus Spórt CEO Helen Nolan has also said that donations like those from AIB are ‘vital’
for their organisation in terms of providing services like the Zoom meetings as their revenues
have been hit hard by Covid-19.
“I am acutely aware that all sectors of society and the economy are facing unprecedented
challenges at this very difficult time – and that the charity, community and voluntary sector
is no exception” she said.
“‘The Wheel’, which represents more than 1,850 organisations in our sector, has recently
undertaken a survey of members that shows between 70-90% are having to cancel
fundraising events and that this is having a serious impact on their ability to continue
delivering services.
“Indeed, in relation to our own organisation, up until the point of the lockdown measures in
March, we had a weekly footfall of 700 children and young people attending over 60 different
classes and activities. However, as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions we now have no traded
income from ‘paid for’ services nor any fundraised income. Indeed, we’ve had to close our
charity shop Fadó – the main driver of our fundraised income stream – and all of our
fundraising events, potentially for the remainder of the year, have had to been cancelled –
including a summer campaign to fund the development of a dedicated youth space for
teenagers, a coffee morning and our annual 5k walk/run.
“We are also unable to hire the services of many facilitators that we would normally use for
our classes and activities – many of which would have really made an amazing contribution
to our new Zoom meetings”.
Helen Nolan went on to say: “Importantly, I’d like to stress that we’ll be doing everything in
our power to continue to offer our vital services in order to meet the needs of our community.
However, I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome any donations – big or small –
from businesses and members of the public who might be able to support the provision of
our services during this difficult and uncertain time.
“Indeed, we are also hoping to widen access to our online Zoom meetings to other target
groups in the coming weeks and months which have proven to alleviate some of the stresses
of Covid-19 restrictions for families and have had such a positive impact on the mental health
and wellbeing of children and young people who avail of the service.
For further information on our Zoom activities or to donate to Spraoi agus Spórt please
contact our helpline on 074 937 3303 or email support@spraoiagussport.ie

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