A Laois and Offaly autism support group has revealed their plan for a big fundraiser later this April.
LOFFA (Laois Offaly Families for Autism) have launched their first annual RAINBOW DAY fundraiser, to take place on Thursday, April 29.
The registered charity was founded by parents to support families with autism.
They want everyone to put on their most colourful t-shirt that day, donate €1, and help raise awareness and much needed funds for LOFFA families.
Breda Murray the new Chairperson of LOFFA explained where their idea came from.
"Autism is different things to different people; to me it is a rainbow - beautiful bright colours that represent the wide range of presentations and abilities of all of our children and families in LOFFA. Rainbow Day aims to raise both awareness about autism and also to raise the necessary funds for LOFFA to continue the vital work it does in directly supporting over 75 local families with a child or children with a diagnosis of ASD," she said.
That direct support takes the form of subsidising costs for families seeking occupational therapy, play therapy, speech and language therapy and counselling sessions.
"These services are essential for our children. When Covid hit, it made accessing therapies through the public system impossible. It was already a challenge in pre Covid times. So when our children needed services the most, LOFFA was there to meet the challenge and assist families afford the cost of private therapies. We will continue to meet that challenge but we need the funds to do so," she said.
As a parent volunteer run registered Charity LOFFA receives no government funding and relies solely on fundraising events such as Rainbow Day and money raised from counter boxes in local shops to offset costs.
LOFFA has also created new counter boxes and Breda hopes shops will display them in Laois and Offaly.
"The people of Laois/Offaly have never been found wanting when the LOFFA call for support goes out," she said.
Two Laois residents are preparing for a sky dive. Darren Farrell proprietor of The Hair House Salon in Rathdowney and Larina Kennelly, details to follow.
Roisin Conroy LOFFA Fundraising and Event Officer hopes that Rainbow Day can become an annual fixture in the school calendars in Laois and Offaly.
"April is Autism Awareness Month so what better time to raise the profile of LOFFA and get people talking not only about autism awareness but acceptance and inclusion too? When public health restrictions allow, funds raised by LOFFA will also be used to keep up the programme of social activities for members.
"Our families want what all other families want, opportunities for their children to be amongst peers, to have fun and to make memories. Christmas parties, Easter Egg hunts, a trip to the cinema; they serve as an important social outlet for the whole family and we are looking forward to being able to bring those days to our families again," she said.
LOFFA aims to resume the hosting of monthly coffee mornings and monthly meetings when public health guidance allows.