The Down Syndrome Centre North East (DSCNE) celebrated a €16,532 award from the RTE Toy Show Appeal grants for 2022 by the Community Foundation for Ireland.
The grant will fund the centre’s comprehensive 2022-2023 Early Intervention programme for children with Down Syndrome aged 2 to 6 years old and help to change children’s lives for good in the North East – namely Monaghan, Cavan, Louth and Meath.
Caitriona Crosby, Centre Manager at DSCNE explained that the programme has been running in small groups since the centre opened in November 2018, but there are plans to grow and expand the service to meet the growing demands and needs of the service users, including more classes available throughout the week so the centre can cater for more children.
"It also requires extra equipment and resources to enable the children, and families to get the most out of each session. The aim would be that the project grows or is maintained to a high level of numbers enrolled each year, so that DSCNE are supporting as many children as possible with Down Syndrome from the North East region, to enable them to access the pivotal Early Intervention services that they require."
DSCNE’s vision is that all individuals with Down syndrome have access to the services and support they need to achieve their individual potential and live independent, fulfilling, and self-determined lives. By providing Early Intervention services, they are to supporting and empowering individuals with Down syndrome to reach their full potential which is the greatest attainment.
“Early Intervention services for children with Down Syndrome are an essential programme as it has so many developmental benefits, all of which are delivered in fun, play-based, holistic nature, whilst also allowing the child to develop and build upon friendships with their peers, support for the whole family when the child is in the home environment and also further education and knowledge for teachers and early years educators all of which is hugely beneficial for each child,” says Caitriona.
“As a small charity, that relies on fundraising, donations, and grants DSCNE have always viewed the Early Intervention programme as one of the core services and so we will always direct funds towards providing this essential service.”
She added that the project will provide “an inclusive, nurturing environment to help the educational development of the children with Down syndrome that they support, allowing them to grow in confidence, accessing personalised targeted interventions and making friends with peers from their localities, through fun, play-based regular intervention in the home from home environment that the centre offers."
Receiving funding towards Early Intervention costs will enable DSCNE to ensure the charity can continue to provide free or heavily subsidised services that children and their families, professionals and local community can access.
They also currently offer Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Therapy, Music Therapy, Handwriting classes, counselling, musical sensory sessions, baby massage and hope to add a social after school club and adaptive dance in the coming months. DSCNE also provide an information service for new and expectant family members and training and information sessions for families and the professional community who require additional knowledge or support through regular workshops, talks and seminars. As DSCNE wish to continually add and improve our services, having key costs covered for this project will allow them to redirect spending to developing further supports and services accessible to all.
Caitriona added “receiving this great news is yet another reward for all the work and supports and services we have provided since our opening in 2018. Each year we have grown and getting not only funding but also recognition from RTE and the Community Foundation for Ireland that programmes such as our Early Intervention services are appreciated and valued is so appreciated. We’re excited that RTE might link in with us over the year and would very much welcome Ryan Tubridy to our centre in Carrickmacross and show him around!”