The Collective Sensory Group in Wexford provide Occupational Therapy for children aged 0 – 18 with additional needs. They provide support for parents and raise awareness and give information to the community. In 2017 they provided services and support for 198 families on top of the 116 families they had supported in 2016. These are children and families that would otherwise still be on an extensive public waiting list.
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 waiting list was too long and the private facilities were far too expensive, so she had to provide a service herself for her own children to ensure that they had the best chance at development.
Their occupational therapy gym and sensory room is where the majority of daily one on one sessions take place with group work taking place in their dedicated educational room. All services are to encourage daily living skills, physically, neurologically, emotionally and socially. They work with children who have additional needs such as Autism, Dyspraxia, Down Syndrome, AHDH and children who have not yet been diagnosed but still require supports and intervention.
They have a social group co-ordinator, an Occupational Therapist while Shona and her work colleague Siobhan are the family support workers and advocates.
The Collective Sensory Group do not receive any state funding. Their only source of income is when they fundraise themselves. They do not have a dedicated fundraising committee or group so the majority of fundraising is carried out by Shona and Siobhan with their small group of volunteers. These fundraisers are anything from bucket collection days, bag packing, Quiz nights, 5-10K walks and runs and anything else they can carry out in the community to raise funds and raise awareness. They received the premises from ‘Respond’, a social housing group who have always believed in their dream.
In 2011 Shauna began her fundraising in the community to provide a Sensory Room and professional Occupational Therapy services in The Faythe School to those students who needed it most. This took two years but was a huge success and planted the seeds for what became The Collective Sensory Group.
In 2013 she completed her DESSA Advocacy training. Advocacy is something she still provides for families who have children with additional needs.
In 2014 Shauna volunteered full time in The Lady of Fatima school for 4 months as an SNA, to learn more about additional needs but also to lend support to a very worthy school.
In 2016 she qualified as a Meitheal leader with TUSLA and now works with families during the Meitheal process.
Running The Collective Sensory Group, providing family support, Meitheal support and advocacy is all carried out voluntarily.
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 believe in it and the community that are 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 dream would not have been possible without the support and trust of everybody in the community. She is the glue that holds the place together.
Thanks to all who have put faith in Shona and her team.