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‘Let’s help Alexis’ fund launched for Killarney girl with rare condition

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TRUST: The ‘Let’s help Alexis’ trust has been set up to raise funds for Stephen and Teresa O’Mahony’s four-year-old daughter Alexis to help with her care needs. Photo: Michelle Crean

 

By Michelle Crean

 

A new charitable trust has been set up this week to support a four-year-old Killarney girl who suffers from a rare condition.

A committee of five have launched the ‘Let’s help Alexis’ fund online including a GoFundMe page which has so far raised almost €4,000 of their €50k goal to give Alexis a comfortable life as she grows older.

Currently her parents Steve and Teresa are 24 hour carers for the little girl who has a rare primary metabolic condition called Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Deficiency which has led to a brain abnormality called Ventriculomegaly as well as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, global developmental delay, double hip displacement, cortical visual impairment and sleeping difficulties. Some immediate supports include upgrading their small Seat Leon to a wheelchair accessible vehicle as she has outgrown her car seat making it difficult and uncomfortable for her on long journeys to Dublin for necessary appointments.

The committee is made up of five people who are not related to Alexis’ parents and will make all the financial decisions independently of both Steve and Teresa to prioritise Alexis’ needs.

“A few people suggested to us a few years ago to set it up,” Steve told the Killarney Advertiser this week.
“The committee are planning a number of fundraisers and have set up the fundraising page. I’m delighted that it’s independent of us. It’s about what is in the best interest of Alexis and the committee will decide. We’re very grateful to them for giving up their time.”

  He explained that Alexis is now almost 15kgs and has outgrown her car seat and that as their car is compact it’s a struggle to fit everything they need for the long trips to appointments in Dublin.

“She is getting big now and her car seat is too small. She has been sanctioned for a wheelchair but it won’t be suitable for our car. She needs a van with a ramp for the wheelchair. Before you could stop and lift her out but it’s harder now. Even stopping on the long trips she’s now too heavy for the nappy changer when we take a break in places like Obama’s and then there’s health and safety – especially now. With a van we’d have the space for everything. She’s on a special Ketogenic diet and food for 24 hours has to be made up the night before and brought with us. And then there’s the medicine bags and change of clothes.”

Funds raised would also go towards extra physio for her, he added.

“She’s getting private and public physio but it would mean we can pay for more private sessions. We’re also looking into therapeutic horse riding.”

And with the physio, which is done at home, comes an increase in the cost of heating oil which is double what most people spend, he added.

“The trust will mean that Alexis will have everything she needs as she grows older. We just want to give her the best chance possible, not just for now but for the years ahead.”   

He added that messages of support from all over have been pouring in since the committee launched the trust.

“You see the good in people. It lifts your spirits and it just shows that everybody in society is equal.”

To make a donation to help the family go to GoFundMe: Let’s Help Alexis and you can also search the same name on Facebook to find out more.

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Possible return to campus for college students

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

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.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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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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