The Collective Sensory Group at Westlands, Wexford provide a service for children with special needs including occupational therapy and as much support and information that they can give to the community.
At the beginning, all they had was their premises. People found out about them and the trust grew. Shona set up the center as she has three children, two of which have additional needs. The HSE list was too long and the private list was too expensive, so she had to provide a service herself for her own children.
Their occupational therapy gym is where the majority of daily and group work takes place to encourage daily living skills. They work with children who have disabilities, additional needs and special needs suffering from Autism, Dyspraxia (a developmental co-ordination disorder), Down Syndrome, ADHD and children who have not yet been diagnosed.
They have a social group co-ordinator, a family support group worker, an occupational therapist and Shona and Siobhan are the family support workers.
The Collective Sensory Group do not receive any grant aid or funding. Their only source of income is when they go out and fundraise themselves. They received the premises from ‘Respond’, a social housing group who believed in their dream. They provided the premises and the refurbishment for it.
Shona was very emotional on receiving the March Outstanding Achievement Award. She, her husband and her family changed everything about their lives for the Center because they really believed in it and the community that were behind it.
Shona does so much work with enthusiasm and focus. George Lawlor said ‘she makes the impossible possible’.
A humble Shona said her Collective Sensory Group idea would not have been possible without the support of everybody in the community. She is the glue that holds the place together.
Thanks to all who put faith in Shona and her team.