The availability of speech and language therapy services in Ireland was a crisis in need of solution when Tara Cunningham, an Irish American from New Jersey, founded Release Communication Ltd. in 2005.
Cunningham recognized “the catastrophic need for speech and language therapy” while working for Down Syndrome Ireland in 2003. Children get 6-12 hours of speech and language therapy annually from the Irish Health Service Executive; Release provides up to 160 hours by empowering parents and teachers to give speech therapy.
“Working within existing relationships changes the experience of therapy for the children who now learn core skills through daily play-based activities instead of a high pressure one-on-one system of sounds and repeats,” says Cunningham.
The next step for Cunningham, whose father is from Co. Limerick, is to push Release into the global arena, supported by her election as an Ashoka Fellow. The organization is currently evaluating locations to pilot the program outside of Ireland. New York, Sweden and Malaysia are possibilities. “The faster we expand, the more children we can help,” says Tara.
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