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Samantha & James’s Story

The first time I heard about Rainbow Club – Cork Charity, was back in 2015. I heard Karen, the founder of the Rainbow Club Cork, on the radio talking about opening a club for children with Autism. I messaged her straight away and was asked to call in. From then, our amazing journey with the Rainbow Club started.

My daughter Samantha who has Autism, was 16 at the time when she joined the club. We were on our second journey with Autism as my son James who was 3 at the time, was only diagnosed with Autism shortly before this. We were starting our journey with Autism all over again so I decided to take leave from work for 2 years and engrossed all my time and energy into my children and the club.

We have never felt so welcomed from the get go. Karen, John and all the volunteers have been amazing. James was non verbal when he started and has been given so many amazing opportunities in the club which include speech and language therapy, Jen the speech and language therapist is amazing and he still is with her today, occupational therapy, play therapy, art therapy, sports inclusion. The list is endless to what James has availed of and received. James (nearly 9 years old now) is thriving in school and all the work Karen, Jon and the volunteers have done for him has stood to him and you can see the huge benefits of all the opportunities he has received. He has learned life long skills.

Samantha was apart of the teen group at the time. She was given speech and language therapy, occupational therapy etc. At 16, it was Samantha’s first outlet outside school. She loves the club and everyone in it. Samantha is 21 now and earlier in the year we got the devastating news that Samantha would have no adult services. We couldn’t believe it. She spend her days at home and isolated herself. I could see that she wasn’t her bubbly self and it was such a hard time, we couldn’t see how things would improve but thankfully Karen and Jon stepped in and offered Samantha a volunteer role in the club which involves helping Molly in the café who we can’t thank enough also. She helps Emma with the groups, Karen and Charlene in the office. They are all so amazing to her. Rainbow Club is a voluntary run organisation that stepped up to help us when no one else could. We could never thank them enough. It has given Samantha a purpose to her life. Her confidence has grown and grown. There isn’t enough words to express how amazing they have all been to us as a family.

The club isn’t just beneficial for Samantha, James and all the other children involved. It is hugely involved with the parents and families. I have met life long friends that I would never have met without the Rainbow Club. Declan, myself and our family could never thank Jon, Karen and all the volunteers enough for what they have done for us throughout the years and continue to do for us. They are not just a club but a home and a safe place for all.