TEN years ago, frustrated at the lack of available supports for her own children, Karen Leigh started out with a dream to make early intervention services such as speech and language therapy and occupational therapy affordable and accessible for children with additional needs.
Having experienced lengthy waiting lists for such services, Karen founded Sensational Kids, bridging the gap between public and private services.
The first Sensational Kids centre was opened in Kildare town in 2007 and last December, the organisation established its second facility in Clonakilty, Co. Cork.
Following on from the success achieved to date, Sensational Kids is set to open its doors at Claremorris Retail Park in July, where it will offer its services to children with additional needs, not only in Mayo, but throughout all of Connaught and into Donegal.
Sensational Kids is an award-winning registered charity providing affordable and accessible early intervention services for the one in four children in Ireland with special educational needs such as those with autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia and sensory processing disorders.
To date, Sensational Kids has delivered better outcomes for over 5,000 children with additional needs at its child development centres in Kildare and Cork.
Knock House Hotel hosted an information evening on the activities and services available through Sensational Kids as well as fundraising initiatives which the organisation plans to implement for the Claremorris centre in the months ahead.
In attendance at the meeting were Sensational Kids CEO Karen Leigh and Cathy O'Neill, business development officer, who addressed a gathering of parents of children with additional learning needs from around the Mayo region.
Knock House general manager Brian Crowley, who introduced the meeting, welcomed those in attendance and put forward various ideas to the group regarding fundraising initiatives that might benefit the Claremorris facility in the weeks and months ahead.
CEO Karen Leigh spoke briefly about her own personal journey in which she experienced first hand the frustrations of long waiting lists and not being able to find suitable and affordable services for her own child, who, through the help of the Sensational Kids facility in Kildare, is sitting his Leaving Cert this month.
The aim of the organisation is to help all children, of all abilities, to reach their full potential.
For more details, see www.sensationalkids.ie.
* Pictured is a group at the Sensational Kids fundraising meeting at Knock House Hotel, facilitated by the hotel’s general manager, Brian Crowley (right), who is a great advocate for the new centre. Also in attendance were, from Sensational Kids, Karen Leigh (CEO) and Cathy O’Neill (business development), and parents who make up Sensational Kids volunteer fundraisers. For more details, see www.sensationalkids.ie. Photo: Frank Dolan