Northern Regional College supports Empower Project workshops

THE Empower Project, which supports families coping with autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia in the Mid Ulster, Antrim and Newtownabbey areas, has extended its reach to allow more families to benefit from its invaluable service.

In addition to the regular workshops delivered in partnership with Farranshane House in Antrim, other workshops will be piloted in several new locations outside the original funding area.

These include Northern Regional College’s Trostan Avenue campus in Ballymena, as well as Rope Walk Community Centre in Coleraine; Primate Dixon Primary School in Coalisland; and Crumlin Integrated Primary School.

Since its launch in September 2015, over 8,000 participants have taken part in 686 activities.

Now, in the final stages of a five-year programme, Empower plans to finish on a high with an exciting autumn line-up of social activities and skills development workshops.

Workshop topics will include: Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); ASD and Anger; ASD and Anxiety, ASD and Girls; Lego Therapy; Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA); Dyslexia; and Navigating an Autistic Sensory System.

Project Manager Marie McCloy explained that as a result of Empower, parents have been able to get some downtime:

“With the help of Beauty Therapy students at Northern Regional College in Magherafelt, we’re offering ‘Pamper Days’ for Empower parents, giving them a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy manicures, facials or massages,” she said.

Pamper Days are free and can be booked through Empower’s Eventbrite online booking system.

Marie continued: “A diagnosis of autism can be stressful for everyone in the family and can raise difficult emotions. During the final year of the project, again in partnership with Northern Regional College, we are offering a counselling service for young people struggling with their diagnosis.

From January 2020, this counselling service, which will provide a safe environment to talk, will also be available for parents.”

Feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. One parent, whose children have taken part in Empower’s Easter and Summer programmes, couldn’t recommend them enough:

“The children did everything from circus skills to cupcake decorating and drama and I attended some parent sessions which I found invaluable. There was a brilliant variety of activities suitable for everyone,” she said.

Empower also provides an information line to parents. To learn more about Empower, and what services and resources are available locally, call 02895816852.

For full details on Empower’s autumn programme of social activities or workshops, visit www.empowernetwork.co.uk or follow on Facebook.

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