A CORK mother whose seven-year-old son was diagnosed with autism when he was two has set up soccer sessions for children with disabilities.
The soccer session was established at Glenthorn Celtic FC pitch in Ballyvolane by Alison Burke as a means to include children with disabilities in the community and to give parents a safe space to chat for an hour while the kids have fun.
Ms Burke approached the committee of Glenthorn Celtic with the idea and they opened their arms to it instantly as it would be “great for the community”.
Speaking to, Ms Burke said: “Families of kids with additional needs often feel excluded from clubs’ sports events due to lack of knowledge and awareness with kids with needs.
“Glenthorn Celtic pitch is perfect as it's all enclosed which is great for the families to let kids run around safely. We have about 15 families coming up and new faces every week which is fantastic.
“Inclusion is so important for any child and most definitely for kids with additional needs where getting involved in something is very challenging as it is. I have worked as a special needs assistant (SNA) for the last seven years and my own son Cadáin is seven with a diagnosis of autism.” Glenthorn Celtic FC, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, is also hoping to improve its facilities and dressing rooms at the pitch to help develop as a club with the aim of starting underage boys and girls teams next year.
Ms Burke thanked special education teacher Melanie Kiely and SNA Gina Carrol for helping to run the sessions and ensuring it is “a fun non-judgemental and easy-going place for kids to come to feel free to explore the area and join in activities”.
She also thanked Committee member Paul Burke who helps out at the sessions each week, and Sue Lenihan and Mary O’Connor for sourcing equipment from St Killians Special School.
Ms Burke also thanked her family and close friends for their support.
Glenthorn Celtic kids sessions take place on Friday evenings from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.