Have We Got Volunteer News For You…

Just last month our secretary received information on how to nominate someone for the volunteer of the year awards from a colleague. Initially this was dismissed due to the fact that in a job like this we all know so many people who volunteer their time and energy for the betterment of others that it’s virtually impossible to make a choice…

A few days later the thought occurred to our secretary that actually she did know someone who fit the bill and ticked all the boxes big time. That someone just happens to be our very own Chairperson; Frances Walsh. This is what she wrote on the nomination form:

Frances Walsh is one of the founding members of the Offaly Dyslexia Group, which was set up when four parents were told that their child has dyslexia. 5 years ago children with dyslexia in the midlands had no support locally. Parents of children with dyslexia had nowhere to turn to for help.

Frances successfully secured the grant aid which allowed the Group to offer literacy workshops over two terms of 13 weeks for the past three and half years. This money also allows the Group to offer a support line for parents; manned by Frances on a full time basis. The group now has 30 children & 9 tutors, and is rapidly growing. We always have a waiting list.

As part of her diploma in Community Development Practice, Frances wrote a feasibility study investigating the need for similar support in the adult community. As a result Offaly VEC Adult Education Centre is now providing workshops, in conjunction with the group, for adults with dyslexia.

Pauline Price nominated Frances, Pauline said “Members of the group are realising the benefits of attending workshops in many ways, their self esteem is boosted, social skills & behavior better & their academic performance has noticeably improved! Without Frances’ tireless efforts people with dyslexia in the Midlands would continue to be marginalised; they now have a future that they can look forward to and enjoy.”

A few days passed and Pauline decided that she ought to tell Frances about the nomination, just in case! Frances was stunned. She’d realised that there was a lot of texting going on between her husband David and Pauline, but wasn’t sure what was going on. Needless to say, Frances was shocked at the very thought of being nominated…

Well, imagine our surprise when Frances received a telephone call from Volunteer Ireland informing her that she was indeed one of the nominees who’d been shortlisted to receive an award. So taken aback was Frances that she promptly burst into tears! This being the case please click on the logo below to read more about the Volunteer Ireland Awards 2012:

 Needless to say, we’re all very excited about this turn of events and can’t wait to find out just who will be awarded the coveted title of Volunteer of the Year 2012.

First of all, however, we’re going to have to dust off our glad rags as David Walsh and Pauline Price accompany our Volunteer of the Year nominee to the gala awards ceremony on December 5th where the overall winner will be chosen from 31 nominees, each of whom have equally amazing stories to tell.

Watch this space for more news on this exciting story and keep an eye out for further information in your local and national newspapers, tv and radio…

Missing Owner Of Medallion Finally Located!

With grateful thanks to JD Scanlon Solicitors, Tullamore, Co Offaly the above gentleman was finally located! We are delighted to inform our readers that Mr James Sexton has been reunited with the medal described above, which somehow arrived at Offaly Dyslexia in an envelope stuffed full of used postage stamps.

Unaware of this, Mr Sexton was thrilled when informed that his special medal was in safe hands and would be returned to him after its somewhat eventful journey around the country. Mr Sexton is looking forward to showing off this one of a kind medallion to his grand-children…

Our efforts to locate the owner had, until recently, been thwarted by a typographical error in the minting of this heirloom medalion which lay un-noticed since 1959. As a result neither the Law Society nor the Solicitor’s Apprentice Debating Society of Ireland (aka SADSI) had any record of the gentleman concerned. It was purely by chance that Mr Sexton was finally suggested has having been the recipient.

We now take this opportunity to thank Mr Sexton for his contribution to our fundraising campaign. This was entirely un-expected and quite unnecessary, but nevertheless arrived at Offaly Dyslexia yesterday afternoon and will go towards the provision of expert tuition for children attending Dyslexia Association of Ireland workshops in Tullamore, Co Offaly.

Fundraising is always an ongoing concern for any not-for-profit organisation. If like Mr Sexton and so many of our supporters you would like to support our efforts you may do so by simply sending us your used postage stamps or by sending a donation to The Offaly Dyslexia Group.


Some Reading & Writing Fun For Christmas…

As parents, we’re always asking how we can do more for our children. One suggestion is to let your children see you and other family members reading regularly. Be it newspapers, magazines, books or letters, being seen to read is a subliminal encouragement for your child to follow suit! It’s often far more effective to follow this approach…

With Christmas literally just days away, we’re sure you’ll find plenty of opportunities to encourage your child to read/write. Ask your child to help you with tasks like writing last minute shopping lists, selecting favourite programmes from the TV guide and Christmas cards need to be written after all! These are activities of daily living and not a formal spelling/writing lesson…

Christmas is also a great opportunity to give fun presents such as comic annuals. Great examples of these include publications like the Beano or the Dandy which have short snappy sentences in speech bubbles accompanied by great illustrations to stimulate your child’s interest. Older children might also enjoy books like the Guinness Book of Records, which is full of interesting facts and great photo’s to rouse their interest in the text.

Christmas is always a great opportunity for families to spend time together. The children are off school for a couple of weeks and hopefully parents will get a couple of extra days off too. One great way to pass this time is to play board and/or word games together. Junior Scrabble, Countdown, Monopoly are just a few examples, remember learning doesn’t have to be all about lessons!

As children many parents will remember that St Stephen’s Day was the time to write your thank you letters. Often we’d receive a set of notelets for Christmas along with a writing set, ie a pen & pencil, sadly it wouldn’t be long before these were all used up! These days sending a short e-mail is often just as acceptable and will help your child keep up to date with their friends and family just as effectively.

Most of all, remember to have fun together. Christmas is a time that forges memories that will last a lifetime, so make it a good one and don’t forget to save the stamps off those Christmas cards and send them in to the Offaly DAI. As a large supermarket chain likes to say “Every Little Helps!”



Psycho-Educational Reports Explained…

After a successful Autumn-Winter term parents of workshop members were invited to attend a short talk by psychologist Yvonne Cunningham, who explained some of the jargon on psycho-educational reports. As each child is an individual, it follows that not all psycho-educational reports will be the same. Having a better understanding of these documents will allow us to help our children generally, especially with their literacy needs as best we can.

There was a good attendence and feedback from those present was positive. As a special treat for Christmas the workshop members were each given a selection box and class was dismissed for the Christmas Season!!!

All that remains to be said is Merry Christmas everybody and we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!


Adults With Dyslexia

Following the success of the open meeting for adults with dyslexia, the Offaly DAI are proud to inform our readers that in conjunction with the Offaly VEC 19 adults signed up for DAI approved Literacy Workshops which commenced in October. The workshops are being held at the VEC offices in Castle Buildings,  Tullamore and so far the turn out has been great!  There is a waiting list for the next course being drawn up at the moment, with a couple of names on it already. So, if you know an adult with literacy difficulties which may be due to dyslexia, please don’t hesitate to mention this to them…

Offaly Branch DAI Parent’s Night

The Offaly Branch of the DAI will be holding a parent’s night on Monday 12th December 2011. Yvonne Cunningham, Educational Psychologist will speak about psycho-educational assessments and what they mean to us as parents. She will be available to answer open questions. Tea & coffee will be available.

Volunteers Needed At Offaly DAI!

As ever the committee of the Offaly Branch of the Dyslexia Association of Ireland are working away on behalf of our workshop members, however with a committee comprising of just 7 parents and one staff member our numbers are small.

Recently the routine administration of each workshop has been organised into a two week rota. Three members of the branch committee will be on hand to take care of signing the children in/out of the workshops, making sure that the tutorial staff also sign in/out and that any visitors are accounted for. In addition to this payment of fees, keeping of payment records and issue of receipts is done by our volunteer staff who are also on hand to deal with any queries or problems that might arise.

Currently there are 8 committee members, who meet formally once a month to discuss the running of the workshops and plan for growth, fundraising campaigns etc. The 3 officers in the branch; the chairperson, the secretary and the branch treasurer deal with the office side of things with the help of our branch administrator who keeps everything running smoothly.

As ever, we welcome offers of help. If you have administrative, secretarial, book keeping, fundraising, tea making or any other type of skills that you might like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the volunteer staff. The Offaly Branch of the DAI’s function is to provide practical support to families who are affected by dyslexia, but, we can only do this properly if the families of workshop members support us in doing this…

Offaly DAI Workshop News

At a recent committe meeting it became obvious that parents of workshop members might occasionally wish to speak with our programme co-ordinator. Unfortunately ad-hoc meetings of this nature are proving to be somewhat disruptive of the workshops themselves! In the light of this observation we find it necessary to request that parents wishing to speak with our programme co-ordinator make a request to do so towards the end of the workshops, ie 6.45pm onwards.

Volunteer administrators will be on hand to deal with all initial enquiries and to handle payments of workshop fees. They will be located to the right hand side of the upper corridor. This is to reduce the congestion at the top of the stairs at 5.30pm. A rosta has been drawn up from the committee members to allow for three volunteers per workshop, at present this is a week-on/week-off arrangement.

Tutors and volunteer staff are requested to sign in/out of the workshops. Parents/guardians are responsible for signing their child in/out as necessary and are most welcome to wait on site for the duration of the workshops, but are requested to make their intentions known to the volunteer staff, who will ask them to sign in/out. This is for health and safety purposes only.

As usual we are always seeking new ideas and volunteers to help us run the workshops. If you would like to become more involved please don’t hesitate to contact us…



Success: October Flag Day 2011

Offaly DAI wish to thank our tireless supporters who turned out last Saturday and helped us raise funds in support of literacy workshops for children with dyslexia. Based in St Mary’s Youth Centre, Tullamore with a current membership of just over 50 adults and children, Saturday’s turnout was poor. In spite of this we were able to get our message out, ie that there are supports for people with dyslexia in the Midlands!

We were thrilled when the final tally was announced late on Saturday night.  Despite having a much smaller army of volunteers than in 2009 (for our last flag day) when we had just 7 children, we were delighted to realised we’d raised enough cash to cover our expenses for this fundraising initiative, and to purchase essential support materials for the workshops.

As a not-for-profit organisation Offaly DAI is entirely dependent upon charitable donations, grant aid and generally the good will of our friends, families, members, etc. We would especially like to thank the people of Tullamore and its environs for their kind support. Without them our work would remain a constant uphill struggle during these cash strapped days, as we’ve said on so many occasions in the past every penny counts. So huge thanks from the committee and the members of Offaly DAI for your generous support!


Public Meeting For Adults With Dyslexia…

Following a feasability study conducted by the Offaly DAI it has been established that there is a potential need for Dyslexia Association of Ireland workshops in the Irish Midlands, (eg counties Offaly, Laois, Westmeath) for adults with dyslexia.

Members of the DAI, Career Paths and the VEC have been invited to speak on the topic of dyslexia and literacy difficulties in adults. This will include an introduction to adult dyslexia and possible coping strategies. It will also include an outline of the facilities available to adults with literacy difficulties available through Offaly VEC.

There are many reasons for literacy difficulties in adulthood, however Offaly VEC recognizes that dyslexia is a condition which requires specialized assistance. It is therefore proposed that the Offaly VEC, in conjunction with the Offaly DAI introduce a series of workshops for adults with dyslexia in October 2011.

As such we invite interested parties to attend this meeting. Light refreshments  will be available