Nationwide comes to Monaghan

This is a big week at avail as we are featured on RTE’s Nationwide programme! I met with the presenter to talk about the journey as a social entrepreneur and how avail came into being. I was thrilled to tell my story; it really is an ongoing journey, one that I couldn’t have taken without the help of many people that I met along the way.

Where it all began…

The idea for avail came to me from my work with a very special little boy called Liam. Although Liam is sadly no longer with us, he was a key part in the story of avail and I like to think of it as his little legacy for helping other little boys and girls like him. Seeing Liam make great progress with the use of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), and watching how well he responded to an iPad, led me to the development of avail as a preferred method of learning compared to redundant and time consuming techniques such as laminated cards.

Jacob using building blocksOn Nationwide, you’ll get to meet Jacob, a boy with Autism from Carrickmacross, (Co. Monaghan) who had difficulty going shopping with his mother. avail helps Jacob to understand the steps involved in a typical trip to the supermarket via digital social storytelling. He also is using it to help him get dressed independently for school and as a coping tool when he gets upset.

(left: a smiling Jacob at play)

Oscar using avail to help brush teetWe also get to check in with Oscar, another boy with Autism, who uses avail to help with day to day activities, such as showing him how to brush his teeth. Oscar and myself caught up after filming to have a quick chat which you can watch here to see what he thought of the day.
(right: Oscar being filmed by the Nationwide crew – brushing his teeth has become a manageable daily task with the help of avail)

Lastly, we will get to see avail in action in the workplace! We’ll meet a longtime Costcutter employee Kevin, who is supported by Cavan and Monaghan Employability Services. Kevin has successfully used avail to upskill and learn new duties – including getting to grips with using a pricing gun in the space of a week. It really is wonderful seeing people from my community benefitting from avail in their daily life.

Looking ahead

My wish for avail in 2017 and beyond is to break down the ceiling that prevents children and adults with disability from accessing and achieving the same goals as everybody else in society. We have raised the bar and witnessed the life-changing impact that technology can have on individual lives. Please watch out for an exciting announcement, coming soon!

Liam - the inspiration behind availIf even one person is helped by this then it has all been worth it.It was a surreal and emotional day for me, never did l think that the spark that Liam ignited 2 years ago would lead to this!

Huge thank you to Nationwide for sharing our story, with special thanks to Presenter, Valerie Watters and Camera Operator,  Rob Reilly.

Don’t forget to follow us on social media! Find us on Facebook, Twitter and join the conversation using #availindependence. Watch out for more avail stories coming soon to our Youtube channel