WALKways graduates grow in confidence

By Mary Dennehy

THE Minister for Health, Simon Harris was in Tallaght last week to attend the graduation ceremony of participants on the WALKways TUH Programme.

Now in its second year, the WALKways Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) Programme is a joint initiative between the hospital and WALK, which, based in Walkinstown, empowers people with disabilities to live “self-determined lives in an equal and inclusive society”.

Walkways TUH Harris compressor

Health Minister Simon Harris at Tallaght University Hospital with John Kelly, Deputy CEO of TUH, graduate Fiadhnait Canning, graduate Gavin Gilvarry and Joe Mason, CEO of WALK

The Tallaght University Hospital-based initiative is a transition programme for adults with intellectual disabilities, providing them with the experience necessary to access paid employment in the open labour market.

Over the past 12 months, 19 departments across the Tallaght University Campus (TUH) facilitated work placements of around 14 weeks.

Each trainee completed three placements across various departments, including Children’s Health Ireland at Tallaght, occupational therapy, material supplies, medical records, catering, physiotherapy and in the Centre for Learning and Development.

The education partner to the WALKways TUH programme is Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB).

Of the 11 trainees that graduated last year, eight are currently in paid employment.

Of the group that graduated this year, three are moving on to paid employment while seven are moving on to further education and training, including the Oireachtas Work Learning programme.

Speaking about the success of the programme, Catherine Kelly, Director of Services in WALK, said: “It has been a huge honour for WALK to work in partnership with Tallaght University Hospital and DDLETB South West.

“The WALKways TUH programme has provided a rich learning ground for people with intellectual disabilities to experience the world of work in a structured, nurturing and inclusive environment.

“The participants of this programme have grown in confidence, learnt new skills, overcome real life challenges and developed new relationships.

“The WALKways TUH programme is a major step in the journey of participants’ lives, one that should be recognised for its immense significance.”

According to Lucy Nugent, Chief Executive of TUH, the feedback from staff involved in the programme has also been “overwhelmingly positive”, adding how the interns have developed not only skills but lifelong friendships along the way.

“On behalf of all of the staff in the hospital we would like to congratulate the interns on their graduations and wish them every success in their new jobs or next work placement”, Ms Nugent said.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the next group of interns and continuing to provide a worthwhile and fulfilling internship.”

For further details on WALK and its services, visit the WALK Facebook page.

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