Call for vacant HSE building to be used for autism centre

The HSE medical centre in Kilmallock.

An Independent candidate for the local elections has called for a soon-to-be-vacant HSE medical centre in Kilmallock to be converted to a recreational centre for autistic children. PJ Carey, who is standing in the Cappamore/Kilmallock municipal area, has submitted a request to the HSE, that the centre on the Railway Road be transformed into a facility containing sensory and special play rooms. A hang-out area similar to those in Foróige Centres would also be included. PJ hopes to work with both Athletics Ireland and The Irish Autism Society to develop the project
Estelle Lewis from the local Parents Support Group has said such a centre is badly-needed in the area and hopes it will help the children develop social skills as well as provide speech and language therapy. Estelle added that it is often the social aspect of their lives that causes the most stress to children on the Autism spectrum.
The facility would be modelled on the Rainbow Club in Mahon, Cork, which was founded by Karen and Jon O’Mahony, whose sons Sean and Stephen have autism. The club opened in June 2015 and is run by 62 volunteers without any government funding. It also provides professional services in Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Play Therapy and Art Therapy as well as ASD Santa at Christmas. The O’Mahonys were prompted to set up the club by the lack of facilities for families coping with autism, and the club has now grown to cater for 402 children. The children are helped to develop social skills by activities such as music groups, social groups, art therapy, speech and drama, sports clubs (supported by Cork Sports Partnership), teen boy and girl social groups, arts and crafts, parent support, and sibling support.
An further attraction of the site is it’s closeness to Kilmallock Athletics Club’s new training Ground just off the Railway Road in the old Kilmallock Tennis Club’s grounds. A growing number of new studies have indicated the positive effects of outdoor activities in areas such as stress-busting. With Kilmallock AC intending to setup a Special Olympics Club, the location of the centre in relation to the new 200 metre track, which is due to open this summer ,is very advantageous. Indeed, Estelle Lewis’s son Adam took part in the national finals of the Special Olympics last summer, an event that the club and local businesses fundraised for.
PJ, in his role of Chairman of Kilmallock AC, has worked with the HSE (which owns the tennis courts site) on acquiring the site for the training grounds and is confident that they will be receptive to his new proposals. Having seen the response to that project, he has no doubt that the community will respond in a similarly generous way.