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Community rally to save Alannah’s sight

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GRATEFUL: Parents Geraldine Dunleavy and Andrew Foley, pictured with one-year-old Adam and four-year-old Alannah, are grateful to the community for their support as Alannah undergoes weekly chemotherapy.

By Michelle Crean

The Killorglin community are rallying to help a local family whose little girl is facing chemotherapy to help save her sight.

Four-year-old Alannah Foley is facing weekly trips to Dublin after being diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), a condition that can cause benign tumours to grow on nerve tissue. In order halt the growth and stop it pressing on her vision her mom Geraldine Dunleavy and dad Andrew Foley are facing weekly trips to Tralee every Thursday to UNiversity Hospital Kerry for blood tests followed by a long trip to Dunlin each Friday.

Originally Alannah and her family were to make the trip to Cork for the treatment but due to her first round taking place the day of the cyberattack they couldn't get their scheduled appointments at the Mercy Hospital.
And facing the cost of travel to Dublin which will last over over a year, their good friend Kevin Sheehan set up the GoFundMe: 'Alannah and Polly's Fight for Sight' page which has so far raised over €12,000 of the €20,000 goal.

At five-months-old Alannah's parents noticed marks on her body called Cafe au Lait stains, indicators of an underlying illness.

After a trip to the GP they were referred to a neurologist in January 2019. And over that summer Alannah started to appear wobbly and dizzy. She was referred to Cork from her GP and two days later had an MRI which was diagnosed as a tumour which had a build up fluid on her brain. After further testing it turned out to be benign and she was fitted with a shunt to drain the fluid away from her brain down through her stomach. Her parents were advised that the best course of action was to watch and wait.

"We were stunned. It meant trips to Dublin every three months for eye exams, then 10 days later MRIs and 10 days after that travelling up for the results," her mom Geraldine told the Killarney Advertiser.

"When she had her last eye exam they felt it was impacting on her eyesight and opted for chemo."

Andrew, a chef, works as the deli manager in Keane's SuperValu in Killorglin and Geraldine works in childcare part-time. They also have a one-year-old son called Adam.

"we're only at the start of it really," she said. "Polly, Alannah's port, got fitted the day of the cyber attack which meant she could not be put on the system in the Mercy Hospital."

The couple, who live in Lynch Heights, head to Dublin every Friday leaving home at 5.30am and it's a late journey home as they get stuck in evening traffic. With the cost of travel and other expenses, Kevin opted to help out.

Geraldine said that she and fiancee Andrew are overwhelmed by the support of the community.

"We're blown away by the support we've received. People keep stopping and asking us how she is and the kindness has been overwhelming."

They're hoping Alannah will be finished her treatment successfully by August or September 2022 before she starts Junior Infants.

"She's a trouper. She does get tired over the weekend and struggles a bit after the treatment but she ends every day with a smile on her face."

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Develop skills and improve employability

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment. Developed in partnership with industry representatives […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

Traineeships are developed and delivered on an ongoing basis by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) nationwide and are open to potential participants of all ages and backgrounds including school leavers, mature learners and those in or seeking employment.

Developed in partnership with industry representatives and employers, these programmes combine learning in the classroom with a minimum of 30 percent of learning on-the-job. The focus is on ‘learning on the go’ and developing perspectives that are in tune with the ever evolving world of work. They span across a range of industry sectors including business and retail, media, manufacturing, agriculture, horticulture and mariculture, care, construction, engineering, animal science, fashion and beauty, finance, ICT, hospitality, sports and leisure, and logistics.

At the core of the scheme is a strong collaboration with the ETBs in the provision of work-based learning opportunities on existing and new programmes. Traineeships lead to an award at Levels 4-6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are between six to 24 months in duration. Over 75 programmes are available nationwide – although not all of them will be available nationally at all times – and the content, award and duration may vary. They are designed for flexible delivery to include online, face-to-face and blended learning.

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Second level or higher education students who are interested in participating in a Traineeship Programme should contact their local ETB, adult learners should contact the Adult Education Guidance Service through their local ETB, and jobseekers will be able to access information through their local Intreo Office or Local Employment Service. For those currently unemployed, a training allowance or income support may be available. You can check out the range of opportunities offered through Traineeships nationwide on www.fetchcourses.ie and more locally check out the www.kerrycollege.ie.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Return to work courses

Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce. Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services. The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 […]

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Answer: Springboard+ provides free higher education courses for people who are unemployed (or were self-employed) and those looking to return to the workforce.

Courses are offered in different areas including Information and Communications Technology (ICT), medical technologies, cybersecurity, sustainable energy and financial services.

The courses range from certificate to master’s degree level – Levels 6 to 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Most of the courses are part-time and last for one year or less, but there are some full-time courses.
You can access a free Springboard+ course, if you are getting a qualifying social welfare payment such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Jobseeker’s Benefit or the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). You can get a full list of qualifying payments for Springboard+ on citizensinformation.ie

If you are not getting a qualifying social welfare payment, you will have to meet the residency criteria for Springboard+.

You can also apply for a Springboard+ course if:

* You are a qualified adult of working age (under 66) on someone else’s social welfare payment
* You are signing for social insurance credits
* You are on an employment support scheme such as Community Employment (CE) or TUS

To apply for a Springboard+ course, you choose the course(s) you are interested in on springboardcourses.ie and apply online, following the instructions on the website. You can apply for up to 10 courses, but you can only take one course.

If you are getting a social welfare payment, you should notify your Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office and check what further steps (if any) you need to take.
If Springboard+ doesn’t meet your needs, there are several other ways to go back to education.
_______________________________________________________________________

During COVID-19, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at citizensinformation.ie/covid19/ and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

Tralee on Tel: Call 0761 07 7860, Monday – Friday (10am-4pm)
The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
Our national call back service: Visit citizensinformation.ie/callback to request a phone call from an information officer

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