When Edelle Canning set up POCA (Parents of Older Children with Autism) it was to help her connect with other parents in the same situation.
That idea snowballed and now the charity helps between 80 and 90 people every Friday when they meet at Lenamore Youth Club.
Edelle explains, “My son Eoin was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 11. The group started as I reached out to other parents on Facebook, to find others in the same position.
“That kept growing and we are were we are now. It’s been such a support. At the start Eoin wouldn’t have been great in social situations, especially in large groups, but that’s all changed.
“There’s such a difference in how he was at the start and how he interacts now.”
Eoin is in fact so confident that he is now “taking over the reins a bit!”
Later this month on Monday 30th March, Eoin has arranged a fundraiser all of his own.
He explains, “I’ve organised a film screening of Mrs Doubtfire at the Nerve Centre cinema, tickets are a suggested price of £5 each.
“I mentioned a few films and this one got the best reaction.”
The monies raised from fundraisers such as this allow the group to invest in the services they provide.
Edelle continues, “We have a waiting list of people wishing to join the youth group and of course, we want to help as many people as we can.
“Our meetings are completely family-orientated, with siblings and parents of those with aurism attending.
“And the activities we organise are family-led, so they’re appropriate for the group.”
For Autism Awareness Month in April the group are hosting a large range of fundraising and awareness events to help with this work.
Kicking off the month there will be the annual kite flying at St Columb’s Park, starting at 2pm with a party afterwards in the Waterside Theatre. All are welcome.
On Thursday 9th April there’s an 80’s theme night and pub quiz at Da Vinci’s Hotel, starting at 8pm, £4 entry with a great selection of prizes up for grabs.
Finishing the month they will host an Afternoon Tea Party for Autism at Cafe Del Mondo in the Craft Village, from 3-5pm.
For more information on POCA and all of the activities they have planned throughout the month of April you can call Edelle on 07510876778, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.poca-derry.com