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(Ireland) Waterford seeks to become "FIRST AUTISM FRIENDLY CITY IN IRELAND"

Apr 24, 2023, Munster Express: Inclusive ‘Autism-Friendly Waterford’ launch

There was a real sense of positivity, inclusivity and purpose last Sunday when over 200 people gathered in the Tower Hotel for the launch of the Autism-Friendly Waterford initiative….

Opening the event, Lynda Lawton, Waterford Chamber, who acted as MC, welcomed everybody to the launch of this very exciting endeavour and said as a mother of an autistic child herself, this initiative was very important to her both on a personal and professional capacity.

Mayor of Waterford City & County, Cllr John O’Leary, said this initiative “will help overcome barriers and bring great benefits to the city”. Waterford has already been voted the best place to live in Ireland. This, he said, would be another feather in our cap if we became the first Autism Friendly City in Ireland. Waterford could lead the way in this regard creating a truly inclusive society.

Dick White from AsIAm, gave a brief overview of the programme. He explained AsIAm’s work in creating awareness and acceptance of autism. “I am delighted to see such a large crowd coming to the launch of this initiative and with your support and engagement I have no doubt that Waterford will achieve its goal of becoming Ireland’s first Autism Friendly City.”

David Galvin, a teacher from the ASD unit in St Paul’s Secondary School, spoke of the gaps in the education system that need to be addressed. He also outlined the wonderful work that is being done in St. Paul’s, not only to cater for autistic students, but also to create a culture of tolerance and acceptance of diversity amongst the school population, something that can be replicated in other schools through the Autism Friendly initiative….

Lynda also interviewed the four parents who started the ball rolling, namely Maolíosa Ní Chléírigh, Tish Holton, Deborah Gray and Frances Jacob. They explained that it was a three-year programme and businesses and public services will be approached and asked to take measures to become autism friendly by undergoing staff training, providing sensory accommodations and giving employment, where appropriate to autistic people. 80% of autistic people are underemployed because the system does not cater for them….


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