An activity centre has been opened in Ballyfin for Laois children and adults with special needs, that for now relies on volunteer staff.
The No Limits Ability Centre offers full-time activity programmes customised to suit all abilities, and welcoming family and friends to join in the fun.
Project manager Nicola Coss from Portlaoise, now living in Ballyfin, saw the need for a full-time activity centre for people of all ages with special needs.
“Ten percent of the population of Laois suffer from a disability. I know there’s a need out there. A 33-year-old man can’t go into a play centre, but this is going to be set up to suit adults as well as kids,” she said.
She saw the perfect location for it when the old school in Ballyfin was set to be renovated, and with the backing of the committee and a €300,000 grant through Laois Partnership, got it restored with the centre in mind.
Now completed and leased out to No Limits, the Old School has an arts and crafts room, a music/drama room, a sensory/dark room, a café and plans for indoor and outdoor sports and mobility facilities in the large garden.
Programmes can be tailored to suit all abilities, for groups or individuals.
“No one will be left out. There will be music therapy for those who cannot play, we will find something for everyone to do,” Nicola said.
There is a large room that can be rented out for meetings and clubs, bringing in much needed funds. A CoderDojo computer club also use the premises.
The cost of tutors will be paid by the clients’, while in September Nicola hopes to take on five employees through government schemes, all with special needs training and garda vetting. She hopes that by 2016, it will be make enough money to pay her a wage.
“We have no money to run the operation, any money we get will go towards the tutors. We will need fundraisers, because we are running on air. The more people that get behind us the better. I am applying for grants but just because I apply doesn’t mean I get them,” Nicola said.
Funding will also mean she can open the centre five days a week rather than three in the start up period, and offer support group meetings and training programmes.
No Limits hosted a two day summer camp to great success. and last Sunday July 27 it held a family fun day.
“The summercamps were an overwhelming success, with 13 children with special needs out of the 24 attending art and dance classes,” she said.
A four week drama and art course for adults starts on August 20, supported by Laois Partnership. Enquiries to 087 7497826, or email firstname.lastname@example.org