Stream 3 was always going to be a big step forward for Shine and the Smarter Senses Committee as this element of the project would launch a Social Skills programme developed at the Centre to the worldwide autism community.
The PALS (Personal & Life Skills Programme): had been running at the Shine Centre since 2010 and had proven to be hugely successful in developing the social skills of young adolescents with autism. The PALS programme was classroom based and was limited to 18 participants per annum so expansion in that format would have proven to be both restrictive and expensive. PALS had amassed a huge waiting list with many applicants having no chance or accessing the programme.
In mid 2013 a decision was taken by the Smarter Senses Board to look at the viability of making the PALS programme available on an application platform for tablets and smartphones.
This would be the first step in a highly ambitious plan to developing a portal containing a suite of applications, information, research and strategies in the area of autism and special needs developed by Shine and our partners in Cork.
These developments would form the basis for a Global Hub for innovation in the area of autism and special needs with on going collaboration between organisations like Shine, the IT industry (start ups to established Tech Companies) and academia.
This was the vision of Smarter Senses Chairman Denis Collins and under his leadership a strategy was formulated to secure the necessary technical expertise and funding to look at the high level architecture, portal framework and delivery plan required for the first application. A number of Tech companies stepped forward to assist in a viability study and they identified the work required to transition the programme from the existing model to an app platform.
The PALS team at Shine led by Laura Crowley worked on reformatting the programme to maximise its impact and effectiveness on a digital platform. Running in tandem with this process was securing the funding envelope required to support the development of the app.
This work continued for the remaining months of 2013.In early 2014 a meeting was held with senior management from the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork. Chairman of Smarter Senses Denis Collins and Laura Crowley of Shine briefed them on the PALS programme and the organisation’s ambition to make it available to the autism community worldwide.
The Bon Secours Hospital(Cork) management immediately saw value in the project and within weeks had agreed to fund the first application with a commitment to support the full suite of applications once the first app launched successfully.
In June of 2014 a young and dynamic web and application development company, Doodle Creative from Cork were awarded the contract to develop the Shine Social Skills app and Jack Casey of Commercial Solutions was contracted to manage the marketing and positioning of the app on social media. Smarter Dynamics have come on board to manage the monitoring and analytics element of the project.
The funding envelope for this initial phase of the project is now significant and the ambition for the Smarter Senses Project continues to grow as more and more companies join this unique programme.
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.
If you would like to learn more about, or get involved in the Smarter Senses Project please contact the Shine Centre for Autism on (021) 4377052 or info[at]shineireland.com
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