Clonakilty an Autism Friendly Town: A First For Ireland

Autism Friendly Town Ireland Clonakilty Launch

SuperValu and AsIAm partner with the entire community of Clonakilty to secure full Autism Friendly accreditation

AsIAm and SuperValu, alongside local retailers Eugene and Catriona Scally of Scally’s SuperValu, Clonakilty is proud to announce that Clonakilty has officially been designated with  Autism Friendly status by AsIAm.

This marks Clonakilty as the first autism friendly town in Ireland and marks one major step in the on-going partnership between Adam Harris, Founder of AsIAm, Middletown Centre for Autism, and SuperValu who, together, are committed to raising understanding and awareness of autism in communities across Ireland. The journey began in July and saw businesses, organisations, and community groups undergo training and organisational changes to ensure they secured full Autism Friendly Accreditation.

 
Pictured is Jack Burton, Clonakilty Rugby Club, Finn Mortell, Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin, and Michael Francis Collins, Clonakilty GAA Club, alongside Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu and Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, at the unveiling of the official Autism Friendly Designation sign in Clonakilty. Photo: Cathal Noonan

In 2015, Scally’s SuperValu in Clonakilty was the first retailer in Ireland to implement changes in-store that would ensure that members of the Autism Community could enjoy a better shopping experience. Fast forward three years, and a nationwide journey is underway to deliver nationwide awareness, understanding and acceptance both in stores and communities.

Driven by a focused steering group and town committee in Clonakilty, the accreditation process has now been rolled out in 91 organisations and included:

All organisations have committed to putting the following measures in place:

In addition to this, a town plan has been designed to ensure that the Autism Friendly accreditation is sustained and extended to any and all organisations in the  town wanting to contribute to its ongoing success as a community.

Pictured is Patricia O’Leary, My Canine Companion, alongside Martin Kelleher, Managing Director, SuperValu and Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, at the unveiling of the official Autism Friendly Designation sign in Clonakilty. Photo: Cathal Noonan

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

Speaking about the initiative, Adam Harris, Founder of AsIAm said, ‘We are constantly striving to increase awareness of autism and helping people understand ways in which they can be more inclusive for our community. This initiative has been an incredible journey and we want to thank and commend the community of Clonakilty in pulling together to make this a reality. The community spirit and response from the outset was truly overwhelming and the energy never faltered in the four months. Through this initiative we are looking forward to mainstreaming autism and making big changes for the Autism Community.’

Pictured is Michael Francis Collins, Clonakilty GAA Club, and Jack Burton, Clonakilty Rugby Club at the unveiling of the official Autism Friendly Designation sign in Clonakilty. Photo: Cathal Noonan

SuperValu Managing Director, Martin Kelleher said, “At SuperValu our ambition is to build more inclusive communities across Ireland. Our work with AsIAm and Middletown Centre for Autism over the past year has opened our eyes to what we can do beyond the each and every store to ensure we use our unique position in the heart of 217 Irish communities to make positive changes across Ireland. This is a project we are so proud to be a part of.’

Around 1 in 65 people in Ireland live are autistic and can be found in every community and school in the country. They apply for every type of job but are often misunderstood, excluded or left behind due to a lack of understanding in society.

To find out more visit www.clonakilty.ie/autism-friendly-town.

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