Saplings school in Mullingar is among 26 nationwide projects for children with autism which is to receive funding of €10,000 through the AIB Better Ireland Programme.
Funding is being awarded to a variety of different educational models, from units in mainstream schools, to specialist ABA schools (normally used to teach children with more severe forms of autism ). These include three of the five Saplings ABA schools, including the Mullingar School, which has a very successful track record, with almost 47 per cent of its graduates progressing to mainstream education.
With their AIB funding, Saplings Mullingar plans to put in a new playground, which should help with some of the children’s difficulties, as Stephen Buckley, director of services, explains: “The new playground will help the children to learn necessary skills such as taking turns, interacting with their peers through play, and imaginative play skills also. Children with autism also experience gross motor impairment, which can lead to difficulties with walking, running and playing games. Our occupational therapist will be able to use the playground to include activities which will improve their physical abilities.”
This year the AIB Better Ireland Programme has extended the causes it supports to include children with a variety of special needs. As a result, 26 organisations that provide services for children with autism are sharing in a bonanza of €260,000 that will improve the lives of the children and families that they are trying to help.
Almost 1,300 applications to the AIB Better Ireland Programme were received online in February 2008 from a variety of community groups across Ireland. In May, 547 groups were short-listed for the public to vote and choose their favourite local community group to receive €10,000 each from their AIB Branch. €1.85 million was shared amongst the winning 185 groups and the 547 short-listed groups will receive the proceeds from the text votes registered to them.
Brenda Moriarty, head of brand management, AIB said; “This year the AIB Better Ireland Programme donated €1.85 million to deserving children’s projects all over Ireland. We are delighted that so many services for children with autism are being given funding, as it acknowledges the accomplishments of these local projects and underlines the fantastic work they do for children, young people and their families.”