For many children with special needs and their families the current lockdown is proving very difficult with loss of routine, access to services and opportunities to de-stress.
Today, however, a convoy of volunteers and staff from the Bluestack Special Needs Foundation based in Donegal Town set off across the county to deliver goodie bags to children to help make life easier.
Wendy McCarry, manager at the foundation where staff have been working remotely with about 300 families, said they found that in many situations, particularly where children have sensory issues, things were particularly difficult and there has been a rise in self-injurious behaviour.
They asked parents if they had things like stress balls in the house to help relieve pressure but most had not had an opportunity to stock up on suitable sensory toys before the restrictions came in. So it was decided to make up goodie bags with a selection of things suited to each child's needs
Aoife Bushell, who has identical twin boys with autism, was one parent who had not had the opportunity to stock up before shops closed and today's delivery was a godsend. She and her sons, Leon and Caleb, were thrilled when volunteers from the Bluestack Foundation arrived to their home with two bags packed with things like slime, play-dough, building blocks and kites to help keep the boys occupied.
The Meehan family including two boys, Shaun and Ronan, both of whom have additional needs say the goodie bags will help relieve boredom and keep them occupied as they miss out on school and all the activities at the Bluestack Foundation.
Funding for the supplies came from CYPSC, the Children and Young Peoples Services Committee in Donegal, and a number of different organisations, including iCare in Inishowen, are distributing them to families across the county to help relieve some of the lockdown pressure the children and their families are feeling.