Volunteers and committee members outside the Butterfly Club, Rathkeale | PICTURE: Dave Gaynor
THIS WEEK marks a momentous occasion for Rathkeale’s Butterfly Club as they move into their long-awaited, state-of-the-art premises.
The Butterfly Club provides a very valuable and much-needed service to families living all across Limerick - respite for children and teenagers with special needs.
After time spent in a variety of homes, the club is now renting a space in Rathkeale Industrial Estate from Innovate Limerick, which has been renovated to create a truly purpose-built space.
“We have been renovating this unit in what used to be the jewellery factory in Rathkeale - it has been 18 months of putting it all together. We have designed it to be fit for purpose,” said chairperson of the club, Pam McNamara.
The Butterfly Club started off after the Special Olympics in 2003. In the aftermath of such an exciting event, the founding members thought that it would be nice to create a club for local children.
They got in touch with the services, and found that what was badly needed in the area was respite and a social space.
Four hours respite allows parents to do things they might find difficult otherwise, like taking their other children out, going shopping or getting their hair done.
The occasion is bittersweet for the club volunteers, who greatly miss one of their founding members, John Dinnage, after his passing earlier this year. John was treasurer of the club for 14 years.
Once the ribbon is cut, it will be “business as usual” from next week.
There are more than 60 children attending the club. They are divided into four groups, including the youth club for teenagers and young adults, and each group gets one Saturday per month.
There are up to 60 adult volunteers and 30 student volunteers from local secondary schools working within the organisation.
And they are hoping that, with the new premises, they will be able to start offering even more to the children that they welcome each week.
“We have a beautiful occupational therapy room, a sensory room, a big open area where the young adults in the youth club can relax, play music or watch a film. We have a big sports hall, a kitchen and a dining area. Our sensory room is absolutely fantastic, the children will benefit a lot from it. There are bean bags, the floor is all padded, so some of them will just lie there and relax,” said Ms McNamara.