Local children with disabilities are to get their own home-from-home when a specially-built unit is officially opened in Nenagh this Friday.
Teach Saoirse on Joe Daly Road was opened by Enable Ireland in 2014 and provides services for 40 children with disabilities. It will be officially opened by service user Kyle Heenan, 16, and Junior Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly.
John Clarke, whose son, Stephen, 15, is a a regular visitor to Teach Saoirse and stays two nights per month, said: “Going to Teach Saoirse is like a treat to Stephen. He has two overnight stays every month and he knows in advance the dates that he is going.”
Stephen was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, and had never spent a night away from his family until Teach Saoirse opened in 2014.
“As a father of a child with autism, there are huge benefits to Stephen being able to avail of respite. It goes beyond just Stephen and impacts the whole family. As parent of children with and without disabilities, we try to normalise life as much as possible for the whole family. We don’t seek out difference, as difference always presents itself with a child that has a disability. But when Stephen is in Teach Saoirse, we get the opportunity to be just a regular family without the guilt of feeling we have left him somewhere other than with us, because he loves the overnight experience so much in Teach Saoirse,” he said.
About Enable Ireland Tipperary & Teach Saoirse
Enable Ireland Tipperary provides services to 132 children and their families in North Tipperary. In the last 10 years the focus of the service has evolved from the home where the emphasis is on meeting personal care and programme/therapy needs to community based activities such as accessing sports and recreational activities, after school and activity clubs.
Debbie Finn, Teach Saoirse respite co-ordinator, leads a team of 14 skilled and experienced staff to create a positive and rewarding experience for the children staying there who encounter major challenges on a daily basis.
Enable Ireland provides family support and respite services for 132 children with disabilities and their families in North Tipperary.
A significant number of families identified the need for residential respite services for their children. In response to this, a group of volunteers came together in 2004 to form a fundraising committee to provide a purpose-built residential respite house. This group, under the chairmanship of Bernard O’Neill, has raised €230,000 and secured the donation of the Teach Saoirse site from the former Nenagh Town Council free of charge.
In 2010, with funding from the HSE, Enable Ireland rented Bayly Farm and began providing residential respite to 10 children. After nearly 10 years of enormous commitment by the fundraising committee, Teach Saoirse opened in 2014. Bayly Farm then closed and the service moved to the new purpose-built centre.
An average of 70 bed nights a month are used in Teach Saoirse. The facility will provide services to children with a range of disabilities and needs, from cerebral palsy to those on the autistic spectrum.
The house can accommodate a maximum of five children at any one time in three bedrooms. The house has been designed around the needs of the children staying there.
There is a communal area where they can socialise together and also a specially designed sensory room where children can retreat to when they need some quite time. This is particularly important for children coming here who may be on the autistic spectrum.
Teach Saoirse was designed by Lewis Shinnors & Associates Architects and built by McKeogh Brothers.