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Bright Stars Are Shining For Future - Kingscourt ASD Fundraiser (Anglo Celt 30/9/09)

Mulv80's picture
The Anglo Celt on Wednesday, 30th September 2009.

Kingscourt's brightest little stars - Josh Leahy (eight years), Jack Watters-Reilly (nine years), Jake Swan (five years) and Louise McCaffrey (eleven years) - and their families, are appealing for people to make a note in their diaries about the Bright Stars autism support group's benefit dance, which will take place in Cabra Castle, Kingscourt on Sunday, Nov 8th, 2009.

All proceeds from the benefit dance, which has become an annual event garnering huge support from the people of County Cavan and beyond, will go towards providing education for children from the Kingscourt and surrounding areas who suffer with autism.
Through the support of the wider community Josh, Jack, Jake and Louise have been able to receive ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) tuition, which their parents organise for them privately because the children have difficulties learning by traditional methods.
Josh's mum, Maeve, was one of the founders of the Bright Stars group. "Like any parent you do what you think is the best thing for your child, and we feel ABA is the best thing for our children because of their needs," explains Maeve. "We can see the progress the boys have made in the past number of years because of the few hours of this tuition they get every week. The problem is that they just don't get enough of it. If they did it would change their lives forever."
Because the ABA tuition is one-to-one, it is expensive, but Bright Stars are grateful to former county councillor Clifford Kelly for his work in providing them with a space in Kingscourt Community Centre where the children can receive tuition, as well as to the tutors for the "miraculous" improvement in the children's day-to-day living skills.
"Children with autism are very intelligent, but they have to learn how to learn. The hardest thing on them is that they are a little bit isolated, if they don't have the social interaction of going to school every day like other children," explains Maeve, who feels that, with Josh's particular learning needs, mainstream school isn't an option.
Concerned about their children's futures, the parents are still working towards getting a dedicated unit set up in the Kingscourt area with the help of Kevin Whelan from Irish Autism Action. One thing's for sure: they have the community behind them, as the children captured hearts since their predicament was first highlighted in this newspaper about two years ago. Maeve and the other Bright Stars parents are bowled over by people's generosity and can't thank them enough.
"The community support is fantastic. We're very lucky," says Maeve. "Last year's benefit dance in Cabra Castle was a great success and helped us to fund ABA for the children throughout the year. We raised €12,500 throughout that night alone. Support was just phenomenal." Also during the year, they've had a pub quiz, a charity sale and a fundraising tribute to Joe Dolan, which, together, brought in a further €5,400 for Bright Stars. "We've also had donations from Kingscourt bridge and raquetball clubs and many local businesses, which we are truly grateful for," adds Maeve. "Without this funding we wouldn't be able to give the children the six hours a week of ABA that they've been getting - and the progress they've made is remarkable," says a delighted Maeve, on behalf of all the Bright Stars members.
This year's benefit dance (November 8) will feature music by Runaway Boys and other entertainment as well as surprise guests. Tickets cost €10 and go on sale next week, in Robbie's newsagent in Kingscourt and from Bright Stars members at 086-3349793 and 087-0682509. People can also pay at the door on the night.
Anyone affected by autism can contact bright stars at 042-9693733 for information.

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