Play soccer and help autism and meningitis charities

More than 500 boys and girls will take part in a 12 hour sponsored soccer marathon in Oranmore later this month to raise funds for local charities.

Maree/Oranmore FC has teamed up with ACT for Meningitis and Galway Autism Partnership to organise the event which takes place on Saturday November 24.

It will support the efforts of all three organisations in heightening awareness about the signs and symptoms of meningitis and autism and generally promoting a healthy and active community.

Children aged from five years to adults will participate in the one hour tournaments at the indoor astro turf area in Maree Community Centre.

There will be a festive atmosphere throughout with handmade cards and magical reindeer food for sale on the day.

Galway Autism Partnerships is a volunteer run charity for families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorder. It was founded in September 2011 and its services include the provision of support meetings in three locations, afterschool clubs, ceramic therapy, drama therapy, “sibshops” for siblings of children who have ASD, social skills workshops and a youth cafe for youth aged 11 to 18 years.

Act for Meningitis was set up last year by Noel and Siobhan Carroll from Oranmore who lost their four-year-old daughter Aoibhe to meningitis in 2008.

Its aim is to encourage individuals, families and communities to learn the signs and symptoms of the condition, the importance of urgent treatment and that some forms can be prevented by vaccination. There is at least one case of meningitis each day in Ireland.

Meningitis is a life-threatening infection which affects the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis and its associated disease, septicaemia (blood poisoning ), can kill within hours and can affect anyone at any time. Those most at risk are children under five, teenagers, young adults and people over 55 years.

One in 10 people who contract meningitis will die leaving behind devastated family and friends. Survivors can be left with various after-effects including brain damage, blindness, deafness, limb loss (where septicaemia has occurred ), learning difficulties and behavioural issues.

About 300 cases are reported every year in Ireland. However, meningitis experts estimate this only represents half the true picture. There is still no vaccine available to protect against meningococcal group B, the most common bacterial cause of the disease in Ireland.

Common meningitis symptoms are fever (cold hands and feet ), joint or muscle pain, vomiting, headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, drowsiness and confusion.

Additional signs in babies include a dislike of being handled, pale blotchy skin, high-pitched cry, and a blank staring expression. Both adults and children may have a rash (septicaemia ) that does not disappear under pressure. Symptoms may appear in any order and some may not appear at all.


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