Summer ends on high note for Arch Club of South Kerry

Local Arch group members on a day out in Kells Bay Gardens. Front, from left: Elaine Curran O’Sullivan, John D O’Sullivan, Brendan O’Sullivan, Helen O’Donoghue, Joan King, Mary Golden, Fiona O’Neill. Back: James O’Sullivan and Rita O’Sullivan
Local Arch group members on a day out in Kells Bay Gardens. Front, from left: Elaine Curran O’Sullivan, John D O’Sullivan, Brendan O’Sullivan, Helen O’Donoghue, Joan King, Mary Golden, Fiona O’Neill. Back: James O’Sullivan and Rita O’Sullivan

Sinead Kelleher

New friendships have been made and wonderful memories created at the Arch Club this summer, and the group finished its summer with a special trip to Kells Bay Gardens recently. 

Arch Club South Kerry is a social club for young adults with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to socialise with their peers with regular excursions and activities.

The idea for the club came from local parents  who wanted to provide a social group for young adults with special needs who are not interested in sports. Special Olympics clubs in Kerry provide an important social outlet for many, but not everyone is interested in sports and Arch Clubs offer an alternative avenue for young adults with special needs, according to chairman James O'Sullivan.

Arch Club South Kerry is one of over 50 Arch clubs around the country and since it was set up almost two years ago it has been a huge success.  "We do different things like go to concerts or outings or art and crafts.

Those not involved in Special Olympics are sometimes bypassed, and this club or group gives them an opportunity to meet others and socialise," said James.

The group has visited many sights in Kerry, including Dingle Aquarium, Crag Caves and most recently Kells Bay Gardens. They have also been bowling, enjoyed a film night and undertaken arts and crafts with Sean O'Leary.

Arch Club South Kerry is funded by the parents and volunteers involved in the group, and their main annual fundraiser is bag-packing in Walsh's SuperValu in Cahersiveen on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

They would, of course, like more funding, which would allow them to undertake more trips and to facilitate other activities.

The success of the group is made possible by more than 20 volunteers who help out by supervising on the trips.

The club is looking for more members, and anyone is welcome to join them and to take part in their excursions.

James's son, Brendan, has special needs, but this has not stopped him living life to the full, and he is a key member of a number of local organisations.

This is what James believes is important about groups such as Arch: "Everyone should be able to get out and be part of the community, and Arch provides a group to do that with," he said.

"We have 15 members, and anyone is welcome to join us and enjoy a day out."

Kerryman

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