The Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID) has been awarded a fund of €7 million by the Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI). They were among ten projects awarded the funding at a SIFI event on Tuesday.
SIFI identified “best in class” educational programmes in the centre, which according to the fund have an enduring impact on the learners involved, as well as their families and communities. They said that the centre serves as a model for overcoming the inequality in education.
TCPID is a programme designed to give young people with intellectual difficulties a way to transition from school to employment or further education, and lead independent lives.
Margaret Turley, a graduate of TCPID, told the Irish Times: “I was told that I would never go to college, that I’d never live away from home and I’d never be able to do anything.”
The director of the programme, Michael Shelvin, said that he believes that marginalised groups are often underestimated, saying: “When you have special needs, it is presumed you will not be able to do all these other things.”
Shelvin also said that the programme does not set a limit for what the people involved can do after they graduate from the programme. He said that they “equip them with the skills to navigate society in a much more independent fashion”.
“Education has a huge impact on our later lives,” Deirdre Mortell, the chief executive of SIFI, said. She believes that the Education Fund awarded by SIFI “helps people who have been excluded”.
Each programme also builds up data to demonstrate the outcomes of the project as they participate in an external evaluation group by National University Ireland Galway’s (NUIG) UNESCO Child and Family Centre. The fund organisers say that these projects have great potential to be duplicated nationwide.