Ability Online for adults aged 29+

The Covid-19 pandemic has left many adults with Down Syndrome more isolated and has resulted in job losses and limited options to engage with further education and other life activities. In response to members’ concerns and in order to provide support, we have developed “Ability Online,” a ten-week adult education course that can be delivered remotely and combines online tasks and group Zoom discussions.

The online workshops aim to equip adults with the skills to live and work independently, while the Zoom sessions aim to support social connections and friendships.

 

Support welcome

Down Syndrome Ireland welcomes the support of MACE so that the Ability Online course can be made available to older people with Down Syndrome living in Ireland.

Up to now, we have been curtailed from developing this programme fully because funding constraints only allowed registration of students younger than 29 years on the Ability online course.

We know from our work and experience that our programme can benefit adults with Down Syndrome of all ages. We have first-hand experience working with people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are in paid employment, are working as part of staff teams and are a valued member of their workplace.

Fundraising initiatives from MACE and MACE Retailers will allow us to expand our programme and offer Ability Online to every adult in Ireland with Down Syndrome

How we support students

Throughout the course students will be supported by an online Adult Education teacher and will have the opportunity to interact with other adults on the course via Zoom, focusing on connecting with others, developing new friendships. The students study ten modules which cover a broad range of topics including:

  • How to live and work with Covid-19
  • Mental Well Being and Resilience
  • Writing skills – postcards and letters
  • Politics and Me and Independence
  • Decision Making and Life Goals

 

The students also take part in a coffee club call each week, which allows for social interaction and to build and maintain friendships. You can download this informative Ability Online for adults aged 29+ pdf.

First hand testimony

To date we have put 49 younger adults up to 29 years through Ability Online. Cathal Byrne from Co. Meath was one of these students and he really sums up what the goals of the course were about, “I took part in the first Ability Online Programme in October to December 2020. The course helped me to keep my skills up-to-date and to be ready when I start work. I enjoyed the experience and doing the classes through zoom worked very well. I met new people and made friends and we are going to try and keep in touch ourselves, now that my classes have finished. It was a great programme to be involved in.”

Conor Griffin, a graduate from Kerry also gave his feedback, “ “I am so delighted to be a part of the Ability online group. I look forward to our Zoom sessions every week and now even more so as I am off work due to level 5 restrictions. I would highly recommend this programme to all young adults as it is a very different experience and there is so much to learn from the course but also from other likeminded people. It most definitely improves our skills in the areas of conversation, listening and IT. Well done Down Syndrome Ireland.”

Benefits

There are also broad ranging benefits to having courses like Ability Online available. Adults with Down Syndrome are the group within Ireland who have the highest incidence of early onset dementia.

Lifelong learning and community engagement are known to be protective in the general population, but a recent DSI survey suggested that 80% of adults with Down Syndrome are unable to find courses that are interesting and accessible in their local communities.

Engaging in education, working and getting to meet and socialise with other people daily are huge factors in fighting against early onset dementia. We support adults to make informed choices about their work and careers and providing them with the necessary resources to seek, obtain and be successful in gaining employment is a core element of the programme.

We are very excited to be working with MACE Retailers throughout our partnership to not only fund Ability Online, but to eventually provide varied work experiences and specific work placements in the students’ local community.

We want to ensure everyone is given the opportunity to have meaningful employment. Without this extra support, people with Down Syndrome will continue to miss out on the social interaction that was absent over the past few months as well as earning a wage and contributing to society, well after their colleagues have returned to work.

How to sign-up

For more information, please contact Lisa Martin, Head of Adult Education by email at lisamartin@downsyndrome.ie  or Aoife Gaffney, Head of Employment by email at aoife@downsyndrome.ie.

You can also download this PDF which has further information about our Ability Online for adults aged 29+.

Student Testimonials

The Ability Online 29+ programme has been a huge success with lots of adults around the country signing up and taking part, we asked some of the current students to send us their thoughts on the programme and let us know how they are getting on. Thank you to the students that have shared their testimonials with us about the ability Online 29+ programme.

Ciara Grehan – Westmeath 

“It was interesting. I learned lots – healthy eating. I think other people should do the course. It was fun. I loved dancing, the quiz and when Hilary made the pizza.” 

Luke Gormley – Galway Branch member 

“I liked all the music. My favourite was musicals. People helped me a lot of times. It meant a lot to me. It was sensational and never been better.” 

Amanda Butler – Westmeath Branch 

“My name is Amanda Butler. I did Zoom in Healthy Living with Hilary for Down Syndrome Ireland. I learned about fruit and veg, and protein and carbohydrates, and dairy. We did exercising and good work. I want to say thanks to Hilary.

Billy Kane – Dublin Branch Member 

“Hi, my name is Billy. I’m 22 years old. I’m a huge music fan. I love all music especially music from Tom Jones, Olly Murs, 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj. I love the music from Glee and Dirty Dancing too. I’m doing the Online Music Course and really enjoying it. I’m learning to play the harp too.” 

Filip Wieclorek – Longford Westmeath 

“Yes, I enjoy the course I’m doing. Its really really good. I will help me to lose weight and be healthy. I think that all people should do healthy living and wellbeing course.” 

 

Wayne Kenny – Dublin branch member

” I joined a new course called ability course. I study over a lot of new skills, like conversation, covid-19, boundaries, money, stress, relationships, writing skills.”

Orla Hannon – Limerick branch member

“The Ability Online Course is going great and I am really enjoying itThe modules are very interesting so far and I am learning a lot. Everyone gets an opportunity to get involved in conversations during the classes. 

I have met 7 new people and our tutor Declan. We are getting on very well together.I look forward to every class. I print out the sheets the day beforeand read over them. This is a photo of me & my dog Coco.”

Sile Magure – Dublin branch member

“I find the course good and I am enjoying getting to know the other students. I do know one of them from something else I have done. I need a little of bit help with the reading and writing so my Mother gives me a hand. I am enjoying doing the homework too. “

Aodhagan O’ Ceallaigh – Dublin branch member 

“I am finding the course very beneficial, getting to know new people and learning new things and Declan is an excellent teacher.”

Aoife King – Galway branch member

“My name is Aoife King. I am 31 years old. I live with my Mom and Dad in Galway city.

I attend Arts Alive during the week with my friends which I enjoy. I love fashion, music, drama, dancing and swimming. I love watching soaps, sports and house and garden programmes. Before Covid I used to go to GAA matches all over the country with my family which I enjoyed.

My experience of Ability online is very enjoyable. It is very nice to meet new people and learn lots of new things.

I like all the courses and enjoy all the projects we have to do. I also like meeting up with new people online and having chats with them.”

Jane Ryan – Kildare branch member

“My name is Jane Ryan, I live in Celbridge. I got a job in the K Club, I was on the computer doing office work. I am a big fan of Nathan Carter.

I am doing Ability Online course. I love it. It’s great.

I love homework.”

Eilish Lee – Galway branch member

“I loved completing this course. I particularly enjoyed getting to know new people, especially online during Covid-19.

This course has made me feel more independent and I also think I am better able to handle relationships.

All modules were very enjoyable and Declan Cooney was a really great leader throughout.”

Aoife King – Galway branch member

“I really enjoyed the course. I looked forward to going on the zooms to meet with the others. I learned a lot from the modules. 

My favourite one was Relationship.  Declan was a great teacher and I found him very nice and helpful.”