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Karen Leigh

Sensational Kids

Alumni 2014

Sensational Kids
Aoibheann O’Brien & Iseult Ward
Raymond Burke

Sensational Kids is a child development centre providing subsidised services for children in need of additional support, skill building toys and therapy products, and professional development training workshops for those working with children with special needs.

The Challenge

A lack of affordable support services for children who are experiencing developmental delays, or those that have special educational needs, means that too many children in Ireland are struggling to reach their full potential. The figures themselves are startling; 1,940 children waiting more than a year for speech and language assessments, 2,090 children waiting more than a year for occupational therapy services, and more than 18,900 individuals, most of them children, still waiting to receive an appointment for speech and language therapy. Identifying and treating these difficulties at a young age will give a child a much better quality of life, but with lengthy public waiting lists, often the only alternative for families is expensive private sector care.

The Idea

Experiencing these difficulties first-hand, Karen became frustrated with the lengthy waiting lists her family faced in Ireland, not to mention the €120 an hour fees they had to pay for private occupational therapy. Determined to make a difference, she set out to create an affordable and accessible service that families like hers could benefit from. Established in 2007, Sensational Kids operates as a child development centre, providing three key offerings for children and their families; subsidised services for children in need of additional support, a child development and learning store providing a range of skill building toys and therapy products, and professional development training workshops for those working with children with special needs. Collectively, these services are ensuring that the children benefitting from them can improve their skills and maximise their potential.

The Impact

In the past 12 months alone, Sensational Kids has worked with more than 2,100 children in their Kildare town centre, with an average of 180 children availing of their services every month. Thanks to the fantastic work of Karen and her team, these children are now being given the opportunity to excel. With their online store and retail shop helping to subsidise their services, Sensational Kids has already saved families in Ireland over €500,000 in therapy fees alone, providing a practical, accessible, and affordable service for those in need. Planning to expand its work over the coming years, Sensational Kids hopes to become Ireland’s leading non-profit child development and learning centre.

Being an SEI Awardee is life changing in terms of work and how you do it. It's the connections and relationships you build with other people that are really beneficial.

Karen Leigh

Karen Leigh, Impact Award, 2014


Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Lower Ground Floor, 11/12 Warrington Place, Dublin 2
Phone: +353 1 685 3191, Email: info@socialentrepreneurs.ie

Company No: 433846, Registered Charity No: CHY 17524, © SEI 2016

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