The Smarter Senses Project is a three step programme that commenced in 2010 with the aim of driving the Shine Centre for Autism in Cork forward to become best in class globally and to enable children with autism to learn, develop and communicate more effectively.
At the core of the Smarter Senses Project is the unwavering commitment to improve the behavioural and academic outcomes for children with autism and to improve their quality of life and that of their families.
This was a unique proposition as it was not all about funding but about participation and acknowledging that the smallest contribution of finance, resource or human effort could make a difference in the life of a child with autism. The Shine Centre wanted to harness the capabilities of individuals and companies both big and small to achieve this ambitious and life changing project.
“This project will positively impact social, educational, academic, IT and commercial interests and is a wonderful opportunity for companies with a strong focused CSR policy to get involved in something both powerful and unique. I encourage any organisation big or small to get involved as the smallest contribution of finance, resource or human effort can lead to something momentous”
Denis Collins (Chairman, Smarter Senses Project)
Stream 1 of the project started in late 2010 with a small team of committed people headed up by Denis Collins (then of IBM) as Chairman.
The project soon attracted some marquee names including Bank of New York/Mellon, Laya Heathcare and IBM. Phase 1 of the Smarter Senses Project was to put technology at the centre of the children’s learning experience. The majority of children with autism are visual learners and the introduction of this technology could transform their learning experiences.
This part of the project focused on acquiring that technology in the form of tablets, laptops and specialised learning computers and software.
Within 9 months every child attending a service in the Shine Centre had access to an iPad and Kidsmart Learning Computers were introduced to each classroom. Staff from the companies aligned to the project also supported the staff of Shine in the use of the technology and established the internal IT infrastructure to support Smarter Senses Project.
Denis Collins Gives an Update on the Smarter Senses Project for RTE
Denis Collins is currently CEO of Smarter Dynamics and Chairman of Learnlode. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the European Tech Cluster, an award winning organisation of 300 companies, representing 300+ billion globally and 2 billion in Ireland. He is also a Board Member of the Cork Chamber of Commerce and Global Development Leader, US Executive Circle/American Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Fordham University Global Alumni. Denis has had a huge part to play in driving the Smarter Senses Project forward since it’s inception in 2011. He has been Chairman of the project since 2012 and lives in County Cork with his wife and family.
Eoin Motherway, is a qualified Chartered Accountant with Deloitte and a career professional in financial services.. He has sat on a variety of industry lobby panels and committees and joined the Shine Board in 2013. He is currently Head of Fund Accounting for UK & Ireland for BNY Mellon. He is married with three children and holds qualification from UCC & DCU.
David Reilly trained at a commercial law firm named Paul Davidson Taylor based in the UK . Later moved to an International Commercial US Law Firm in the West End of London named Whitman Breed Abbot & Morgan who later merged with US firm, named Winston & Strawn. David then moved to a Top 100 Law Firm DMH Stallard based in London. Moved back home to Cork and worked at PJ O’ Driscolls, Solicitors based in Bandon, Co. Cork. Opened Reilly & Company, Solicitors in January 2009 specialising within the areas of Commercial and Technology Law both within the Private and the Public Sector. David joins the Smarter Senses Board for 2015 and lives in West Cork.
Laura Crowley holds a Masters Degree in Education and is the Programme Manager for the PALS (Personal & Life Skills) Programme for adolescents with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome or HFA (High Functioning Autism) at the Shine Centre. Laura is also responsible for the content development for the Social Skills app project and also heads up the Building Blocks Educational Support Service for children with autism attending mainstream schools. She currently lectures in Autism Spectrum Studies in UCC. Laura is the media spokesperson for Shine Ireland.
Jennifer O’Toole is the winner of the Autism Society of America’s 2014 Outstanding Literary Work of the Year, the 2012 Temple Grandin Award, a recipient of GRASP’s 2012 Distinguished Spectrumite Medal, 2012 AuKids Speaker of the Year, and a nominee for the 2012 Autism Society Book Award and Godiva’s Woman of the Year. O’Toole was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in adulthood, is the mother of three Asperkids, the wife of an Aspie, an award-winning educator and author of the internationally- celebrated Asperkids series of books all of which are Amazon bestsellers. She now keynotes internationally, including for the Autism Society of America’s National Conference, the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, The National Inclusion Project, the UK’s National Autistic Society, Ireland’s SHINE, Denmark’s Sikon, and at conferences alongside Dr. Temple Grandin and Tony Attwood. O’Toole graduated with honors from Brown University and has since studied at the Graduate School of Social Work at Columbia University and Graduate School of Education at Queens University. Jennifer lives in North Carolina USA with her family.
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