Co Down mums organise Slieve Donard climb for Autism awareness

A team of Co Down mums have organised a sponsored climb of Slieve Donard to raise “much needed” funds for their fast expanding Autism support group.

Downpatrick Autism Family Support Group has been running since October 2017 and is growing in size weekly.

The team of dedicated parents and careers aim to promote Autism Awareness & Acceptance in the Downpatrick area.

They provide a friendly and non-judgemental environment for those with personal experiences of Autism, to share their stories and to give guidance during or after the gruelling diagnosis stages.

The group are appealing for people from all backgrounds and of all physical abilities to join them on Sunday, August 26, as they climb the 2,550 ft Slieve Donard in Newcastle to raise awareness of the developmental disability.

Aine Sloan, Chairperson of the group, stressed the importance of raising awareness for a cause that has affected so many families.

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She said: “We want parents and carers to have a support network. We want to facilitate the chance for them to meet with others facing the same daily struggles. We also wanted to bring Autism friendly activities to the area.

“We have a core bunch of parents and carers that feel that the group is a lifeline.”

Aine’s son has recently been diagnosed with ASD and she praised the group for the support they have provided to her and Donnacha, five.

She said: “The group has gave me the chance to meet with other parents and the advice I’ve been able to get from them has been invaluable.

“It has give my son the chance to meet up with other children. It has given me the platform to make a real difference in the local area in terms of spreading Autism awareness.”

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At present, the group have no funding, and rely on generous donations from community bodies to help them offer activities to the families and children involved. The money raised from the Slieve Donard walk, will contribute to the setting up more activities.

Aine said: “We would love to organise more fun days out to allow the children the chance to build friendships as its not always easy for children with autism. We want to promote healthy minds in both the children and carers.

The group is growing from strength to strength

“Autism impacts the whole family and can at times be very challenging. Activities such as complimentary therapy and mindfulness can help alleviate some of those stresses. However all of the above will require funding, which is why we have organised this sponsored day.

“Climbing Slieve Donard will be a challenge but it will be small in terms of the challenges our children face every day.”

If you would like to help support the Autism support group or take part in the Slieve Donard walk, you can phone Aine on 07736009494 or donate through their Just Giving page.

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