If You Want Something Done, Then Just Do It Yourself
28th October 2020
Christina O’Neill is a mum-of-three and all of her children are on the autistic spectrum.
She set up All About Us as a youth club for autistic teenagers that allowed them and their families to be in a safe space with others who could understand their complex needs.
Christina is one of 12 people who have a bench dedicated to them to celebrate her invaluable support to her community during the covid 19 pandemic.
During lockdown, Christina, who is from Antrim in Northern Ireland, made and delivered a care packages to each and every member of the group every fortnight.
These contained emotional well-being materials, puzzles, games and much more.
The service becomes a lifeline for many of the teenagers, keeping them connected and seeing a familiar face at the gate and helping them to maintain their self-esteem during a difficult time. Christina also kept in touch with all the parents, posting about tools that could help with their mental health, as well as activities and being a friend at the end of the phone.
The parents of the children she works with say Christina has had a vital role in turning lives their around, including some children who were self-harming, suffered depression, were isolated or unable to attend school.
Christina set up All About US in September 2018 after struggling to find inclusive activities for her oldest son when he was having a rough time. She found support from The National Lottery whose players contribute around £30 million a week to good causes.
She says: “If you want something done, then you just do it yourself, don’t you?
Christina, whose own children are 18, 17 and 10 says: “The last two years have been absolutely fantastic - we’ve been supporting 150 children over the lockdown and we are now in the process of taking over our own unit which is going to have a 20-year lease on it.
She says: “It makes me proud. But you want to see the kids - you can have a child come through who has been to other places and hasn’t fitted in. Then seeing the change and the confidence in the child, that’s the best part.”