Smarter Senses

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What is the Smarter Senses Project:

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)

 

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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.

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Stream 2:

Stream 2 of the project was to build a Sensory Garden at the Shine Centre. This project was funded by the Staff of Bank of New York/Mellon and funded corporately through the BNY/Mellon Matching programme. The project had the key support of Eoin Motherway of BNY Mellon and their Charity Committee who worked tirelessly to secure the required funding and volunteer hours to complete the project. The Sensory Garden was conceived and designed by Dominic Cullinane with guidance from the Shine Centre to incorporate all of the beneficial elements for children with autism. The garden focused on touch, taste, smell and sound with the use of flowers, fruits and plants and a water feature. Issues like balance and fine and gross motor skills were also catered for in the design with a two tier garden area, a footbridge and a soft play area. Volunteers from BNY/Mellon, IBM, Smarter Dynamics did a lot of the heavy lifting in preparing the site and the project was completed in September 2012. The Sensory Garden is now a hugely valuable resource for the children and adults who attend the Centre and offers a wonderful space to learn and develop some important skills but most importantly it’s a fun place to go and play.

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Overview:

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.

Update Project Stream 3:

Stream 3:


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 (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.


Denis Collins Gives an Update on the Smarter Senses Project for RTE

The Opening of the BNY Mellon Sensory Garden at the Shine Centre

 


Smarter Senses Project Develops Groundbreaking Social Skills App

The Making of the Social Skills App

 


“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)


Einstein once commented “Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value”. The Smarter Senses Program is a cutting edge approach, from multiple contributors, to design and implement a smarter way to meet the challenge of autism with optimal modern day techniques and resources. The thought leadership is in place and we are striving to assess the right educational partners and resources that will conclude the Smarter Senses Value Proposition. There is always a spare seat at the table for an idea, a contribution or influence. Come and grab it !

Eoin Motherway Director Shine Ireland & Managing Director, Head of Fund Accounting UK & Ireland BNY Mellon Asset Servicing


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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