Using blogs and social media to spread positive news

I mentioned that I was meeting the staff from Special Olympics Ireland recently. I had a talk with them about the benefits of using social media – such as this very blog – to help causes like themselves. There are a lot of online ways to talk to people, get their attention, give them your message, fundraise and so on.
The presentation I made to Special Olympics dealt with just three of these: Facebook, Twitter and blogging. People who blog, like many of you, are more often than not up to speed on just how useful tools like blogs are, but it’s easy to forget that not everyone is aware of how powerful online communications can be. My friend Hammie, for instance, uses her Facebook page as a fantastic outreach point for parents or guardians of children with autism, and it is a shining example of how to maximise new communications. Still, there’s a leap to be made for a lot of people, and very often a fear of launching into the unknown.
This is the presentation I put together to try to give the gang at Special Olympics Ireland a perspective on the many benefits of social media. If some of it makes no sense (seeing as I’m not actually standing there in front of you boring the arse off you) then just ask and I’ll try to fill in any gaps.


Special Olympics Ireland on Facebook

Can you help me push their Facebook membership towards 2,000 fans?

facebook_logoNext Thursday I’m meeting a group of people from Special Olympics Ireland. Volunteers. I’ve been asked to talk about social media, and how it can help organisations like them in fundraising and getting the positive messages and experience out. There are 300 million people worldwide on Facebook. I’d like to use it to make as many of them as possible aware of the amazing work Special Olympics do.

I won’t need to tell you lot what a great bunch they are, and not just in Ireland. As part of my presentation to them, I’m really hopeful that I can demonstrate how powerful our little blogging community can be for the cause too. We network, advocate, share resources and provide a great early warning system for each other, as well as having a laugh and keeping up to date with our wonderful friends worldwide.

On Friday last I pushed the same message out on Twitter. In the space of 24 hours my little group of followers on Twitter, none of whom are involved in the Ds scene, had added 60+ fans to the Special Olympics group. The fan base went from 1,660 people to 1,740 and is still climbing. It’s at 1,785 as I write. The internet has made this stuff possible, and I would love to hit 2k before next Thursday, Oct 22nd.

How can you help?

  • Join the Irish Facebook page here.
  • Link to your own area’s Special Olympics FB page too if you’re not in Ireland.
  • Blog about the group yourself. Feel free to cut and paste from this post.

Picture 1

And if you want to follow me on Facebook, (not you, Revenue) here’s my profile. It’ll all be just lovely and we can have tea and scones and tut tut about the young people today.

Summer sports camp in Laois/Kildare

Image by Dru Bloomfield

Found this over on Irish Autism Action.

Summer Sports Camps are running in conjunction with the Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow and Kildare Local Sports Partnerships and Special Olympics Leinster.

It’s for any child with an intellectual disability between 6 and 16 years of age. Siblings welcome. If it sounds like you then check out the details at the Autism Action site.

Oh, and a quick apology for the lack of everything round here. A Jacob update is on the way when I can get him off the stairs and in front of the keyboard. 🙂

Grandparents are parents too!

DSI, assisted by a crack team of highly trained commandos, will be storming the Gresham Hotel in Dublin on January 14th with an Information Day for grandparents of kids with Down Syndrome. It’ll be like the SAS storming the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980. Only with possibly less balaclavas. And more cake. But the crack commando unit will be there.

Obviously there’s a steep curve of learning for new parents dealing with Down syndrome. Not much thought is left over, at least initially, for the parents’ parents, who are struggling to cope with the information from an entirely different perspective. Possibly they feel slightly more useless, although I don’t think anyone could’ve out-uselessed how useless I felt when I first was coming to terms with my new status as a Downs dad.

Here are the details, with thanks to Nan P, most secret, deep-cover grandmére of all.


14th January 2009, 10.30am – 3.30pm
The Trinity Room.
The Gresham Hotel,
O’Connell St,
Dublin 1.

Crack commandos:
May Gannon – Counsellor.
Joan Murphy – Clinical Co-ordinator.
Grainne Murphy – Independence Officer.
Pascale Claes – Grandmother.


On yer bike! Phone the National Office on 01 4266500
or email to confirm your place! Vroom vroom!


The Special Needs Handbook needs authors!

Helen McGrath-Doherty is not someone I know anything about, except for the fact that she’s doing something terribly decent. The Special Needs Handbook is being compiled by her, and others I presume, to offer practical help, advice and tips to parents, carers and professionals.

She’s cleverly getting everyone else to write it – and that means you too. Here’s what she says:

We are compiling all the good ideas and practical solutions to everyday problems that parents and therapists have tried and tested over the years. Once compiled, the book will be made available free over the internet, with the possibility of publishing it (not for profit) and making it available through shops.

All contributors whose ideas are original and published in the book will be sent a free copy – so be sure to include your name and address along with the tip or tips you send in.

Imagine. Offering it for free. Of all the jar-headed ideas I’ve come across in this festive season of giving cards to every cashier you meet, this one really beats Banagher.

But seriously, a lot of you have so much accumulated knowledge on this subject that we’re bound to get somebody published, right?

So the competition is on. First one in buys the drinks.

My starter: On those days when you’re feeling a little bit conscious of all the looks your precious one may be getting from the normals, pull a face like this. It gives everyone a different focus.

Well then make your own suggestions if you’re so smart and good looking. Here’s the address for your suggestions:


Ok, so the cover isn’t exactly epilepsy-friendly, but I’m not sure this is how it’ll end up. Anyway, shut up. It’s going to be free.

PS I found all this at India Knight’s excellent blog Isn’t she talking yet? at Times Online. Her daughter has Di George syndrome, also a chromosomal abnormality condition, and she uses her journalist profile to help special needs issues get heard. And she has a great sharp tongue too.

Action for autism

As a parent of a downie, I get to take a lot of state and social assistance for granted. Within reason, of course, but I’m very thankful for it. To a significant degree, it allows us in Downsyndromeland to get on with managing and providing for the special needs of our affected family members. It wasn’t always that way, and I’m acutely conscious of the efforts of a generation of parents before us who hacked a clearing for us.

To my uneducated eye, it seems that the current generation of parents of autistic kids are engaged right now in that titanic struggle.

I hope this post can help to drum up some support for them. If you can take moment to visit O2’s website here it will tell you about their initiative with Irish Autism Action to raise the (inevitably named) much needed funds. This from O2:

October sees the launch of a new initiative by O2, in partnership with Irish Autism Action. It is called the Irish Autism Action Affinity. This offer is open to both prepay and post-pay O2 customers and the message is simple – Text the key word ‘AUTISM’ to 50308 and 5% of your O2 monthly spend will go towards autism services in your community.

Ok, you got that? If you’re an O2 customer, text AUTISM to 50308 and O2 will donate 5% of your monthly spend to autism facilities. That’s money that you’ll be spending anyway. And if you have no connection with anyone with autism, you might end up never having a clue as to the extent of the wonderful a thing you’ve done.

But I’m telling you now.

It’ll be a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately my esteemed readers outside of the Republic of Ireland won’t be able to take part. We’ll get Hammie to get to work on that. I believe world dominion is part of her plan for November. I know too that I have one or two readers who fall outside the special needs carers category. Guys, your help would be appreciated by some seriously overstretched people.

God bless.

Mini marathon run-down(s)

Bank Holiday Monday, June 2nd

Dublin was basking in a heaven-sent shimmering blue heat last weekend as forty thousand women gathered for the annual Flora Women’s 10k mini-marathon in aid of a bagload of super charities.

And our Dee was in there too! That’s her above, towards the left, the one in the t-shirt. She was running for St Michael’s House, which does fantastic work for people with intellectual whatsits.

She’s been hassling virtually everyone she knows for sponsorship money (and she knows me really, really well). Great news for St Michael’s House, and I suppose great news for me if we ever end up living on the street together. Otherwise a complete pain in the arse. But we’re all very proud of her anyway. She really hit the training circuit hard, putting in possibly three or four gruelling road sessions between February and May alone. And what about that heat!

She did the run with our neighbour Helen. My sister Bonn did it too with her friend Leslie – well done you two as well! But it’s not just about the runners and walkers. Oh no. There’s a massive backroom team who do tireless work, you know. I tirelessly took photos in the blistering heat. Aisling, Helen’s daughter, held Jacob for the photo op. Jacob modelled a t-shirt that said ‘Am I rockin’ my extra chromosome or what!’ And I took photos. In the blistering heat.

As can be seen, the fitness fanatics threw some exotic shapes before the start of proceedings. Here we see the Crouching Dragon limber-up. After the race this gets replaced by the Dragged onto Couch warm-down.

Remember, forty thousand women. In one place. Many of them very serious runners. Many, many of them very serious talkers. Either way, over ten kilometers (six and a quarter miles, non-metric fans) it all requires energy, that’s all I’m saying. You end up pretty shattered, but they give you a medal, you earn squillions for charity and you get a nice, gooey, warm feeling inside. It’s just that you don’t actually have the energy left to tell your face to smile, dammit.

Well done, our hero!
(And a BIG thank you to everyone who supported with the ker-ching.)