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Clonakilty plans to be Ireland's first ‘Autism Friendly Town'

August 4th, 2018 6:20 PM

By Southern Star Team

Eugene and Catriona Scally with Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, with staff and friends, at Scally's SuperValu's Clonakilty, Cork to launch their initiative to make Clonakilty Ireland's first ever Autism Friendly Town. (Photo: Cathal Noonan)

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CLONAKILTY is planning to become Ireland’s first Autism Friendly town.

Following the success of the autism-friendly shopping evenings held at Scally’s SuperValu for the past three years,  Eugene and Catriona Scally, with the support of SuperValu, have launched an initiative to make Clonakilty Ireland’s first ever Autism Friendly Town. 

The project designed as part of the on-going partnership between Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm and SuperValu, will see businesses, organisations and community groups undergo training and organisational changes to ensure they secure full Autism Friendly accreditation.

In 2015, Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty was the first retailer in Ireland to implement changes in-store that would ensure that families and customers with autism could enjoy a better shopping experience. 

With the support of SuperValu and with AsIAm’s guidance, the town of Clonakilty is hoping to combine the efforts of the entire community to become fully autism friendly, which will be a first for anywhere in Ireland. 

Over the course of the next four months Adam Harris and his team will be working with the entire community to receive official Autism Friendly accreditation.

Patricia O’Leary of My Canine Companion, an organisation that provides training and companion dogs for people with autism, told The Southern Star that Clonakilty is the perfect town to become Ireland’s first autism friendly community.

‘This is an amazing project,’ Patricia said. ‘And as usual the response from the the community here in Clonakilty has been fantastic. I will be working with Adam Harris and AsIAm and we will be providing training for businesses, community groups and sports groups over the coming months. We want to ensure that Clonakilty provides a comfortable environment for people with autism and their familes and I have no doubt that the community here in Clon will raise to the challenge.’

Training is already underway for many groups and the reponse from the community has been overwhelming according to Patricia.

‘Following the overwhelmingly positive response we received from the Autism community in Clonakilty, Scally’s knew that there was more we could do to help,’ Catriona Scally said.  ‘While this is an ambitious undertaking, we have the best in the country guiding us, coupled with a community spirit and determination that is hard to beat.’

Adam says he is confident that this project will enhance the understanding of autism within the community. 

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