The Echo cycle challenge fundraiser for Social Circle

By Hayden Moore

THE ANNUAL Echo fundraiser is only around the corner, with our static cycle challenge taking place in The Square on November 29 from 9am to 9pm, reports Hayden Moore.

This year’s chosen charity Social Circle are a parent-led group that are focused on providing social, sporting, and cultural activities for local children on the autism spectrum, and their families.

Social Circle 02 Member families at Social Circle with staff from The Echo newspaper

Mairead Mekki and Laura Hegarty originally set up Social Circle in 2014 and in the four years since Mairead said, “not a day goes by when we don’t do something for it [Social Circle]”.

Laura from Walkinstown and Mairead from Tallaght both have children with different degrees of autism, and they started the organisation as a means to promote inclusion for those dealing with the sometimes-isolating condition and provide weekly activities for them.

Mairead said, “We have children with autism and our area [Tallaght] is actually the worst affected area in the country. There is no real support there – there’s a five-year waiting list for children to see a psychologist, speech therapist or occupational therapist in our area.

“So, we knew that if we didn’t do something to help our kids no one else would – we had to provide activities for our children, and others dealing with this condition because it can be very isolating.”

Both of the parents run the organisation in their own time outside of their usual working hours, and their commitment to helping children with autism has led to them being nominated at the Tallaght Person of the Year three times.

After picking up the Special Needs and Carers accolade at the awards ceremony in 2016, they have been nominated in both the following years since then.

Speaking about what it means to get nominated, Mairead said, “it feels so good to get nominated again, it’s a brilliant night”.

Looking forward to the fundraiser in The Square Town Centre next Thursday from 9am to 9pm, Mairead said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen, we really are and I can’t wait for it!

“I even booked the day off work for it,” she laughed.

To donate to Social Circle, support The Echo at their static bike challenge on November 29 or log onto The Echo’s official GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/echo-fundraiser-for-social-circle

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