The new facility at Abbey Road in Thurles.

State-of-the-art Tipperary Down Syndrome Unit completed

The building of the new state-of-the-rt Tipperary Down Syndrome Unit is completed and will be ready for in the very near future. ‘As promised this is the best Down Syndrome Unit in all of Ireland, not just in Tipperary’, said Deputy Michael Lowry as he visited the new facility at Abbey Road in Thurles this week.

The new unit is everything we dreamed it would be. It is unique and distinctive. It is a top class facility and it has been delivered on time. This unit will enable the children who attend it to reach their full potential. This has always been about the children’ he says.

"When the children come through the doors for the first time it will mark realisation realisation of a dream for the dedicated committee, the parents and carers and the host of volunteers who have transformed an ordinary house into a nurturing, accepting and fully inclusive environment," says Deputy Lowry.

It was in September 2019 that the local Down Syndrome Committee approached Deputy Lowry for help. Major fundraising, supported by the generosity of Tipperary people, had enabled the committee to buy a house on Abbey Road, which was a significant achievement for this dedicated group of people. The committee had identified several different programmes that they felt should be put in place at their new facility, but there was a major additional cost required to do this.

Deputy Lowry recalls that he was contacted by committee members Catherine Cleary, Siobhan Ryan and Sandra O’Halloran who told him they needed his assistance. He visited the house at Abbey Road with them and agreed that, in its state at that time, it could not meet the needs of the 60 members who would use the premises.

"I sat with them, listened to them, heard their story and immediately it was clear that they needed help and support’ says Deputy Lowry. ‘The message I was getting loud and clear was that so much can be done for a child born with Down Syndrome if there is early intervention with the required services. Targeted intervention is hugely important in areas such as exercise classes, Languages programmes and other areas. These programmes were needed in this new facility.

"The committee has a plan drawn up at an estimated cost of €300,000 – it was just not possible to do that with Grant Aid which is very limited’ he continues. ‘So I suggested that we would effectively use a DIY SOS approach and involve as many people as possible on a voluntary basis. We put the idea out there and we got an incredible response," he says.

COMMITTEE SAYS THANKS

The committee wishes to wholeheartedly acknowledge the support they have received and the positive response they have been given everywhere throughout this journey. They thank everyone who has helped them in any way to bring their dreams and plans to this stage, and they appeal to anyone who still wishes to support this project to visit their fundraising link at https://www.idonate.ie/DownsyndromeTipperaryBranch

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