Blossom Ireland provides fun and engaging activities to children with intellectual disabilities outside of school, focusing on fully immersing their participants into wider society so that they can enable all children to reach their full potential.
Most community activities and after-school programmes welcome children with intellectual disabilities. Unfortunately, in most cases they are simply not equipped to handle their complex needs. This often results in children being minded rather than engaged. The numbers are startling: 82% of children with an intellectual disability are bullied and 79% are too scared to venture out for fear of bullying. These children are isolated as a result and their participation in mainstream activities can make their own families nervous. Communities often wish to support these children, but without the proper education they don’t know how.
As a mother to a boy with intellectual disabilities, Auveen Bell understands these challenges firsthand. In response, she established Blossom Ireland to break down the barriers that were preventing our young people with intellectual disabilities from positively and actively contributing to their communities. Serving children between the ages of 8 and 18, Blossom Ireland has developed two core programmes - “Discovery Camps” and “Blossom Buddies” - to encourage independence and nurture the development of life skills amongst those with intellectual disabilities. Both programmes focus on supporting full participation in relaxed environments, providing peace of mind for families.
Through after school activities and holiday camps Blossom Ireland have hosted over 150 children with intellectual disabilities, with a return rate of 98%. The Blossom Buddies pilot was launched in February 2015, with 15 teenagers currently successfully engaged in the programme. The key to Blossom Ireland’s success is based on their ability to fully understand the needs of their participants. The organisation’s fully trained, cross-functional staff ensures the highest standard of care. They intend to expand their capacity in the coming years by rolling out their effective programmes in new locations. Blossom Ireland is bringing joy to children and their families by giving them the opportunity to play an integral role in their community, enabling them to live up to their fullest potential.