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RTÉ Toy Show Appeal’s grants to help transform young lives in every county on the island of Ireland

Sensory room

A Ballymena-based charity is among 14 children's organisations across Northern Ireland who have been awarded grants from the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal, gaining vital funds to help transform young lives in the heart of local communities.


Sensory Kids which was established in Houston's Mill, Broughshane, has received £10,000 to provide the 'Creative Specialist Play Programme' which supports vulnerable children and mums in their journey to transition through early years foundation stage.



The organisation was developed by Kathryn Davidson and Mary Connor in 2014, and became a Charity in 2021, offering early intervention to children and young people with or without a diagnosis aged 2 plus.


Another Northern Ireland charity to receive a grant is Antrim-based Fresh Minds Education. The organisation also received £10,000 for its Fresh Little Minds: Sunrise initiative - an evidenced innovative classroom based, resilience building and wellbeing programme delivered to 300 children across six schools in the Antrim area, improving their mental and emotional health.


Altogether, over £300,000 was distributed among the 14 organisations in Northern Ireland.



Across the island of Ireland the lives of children will be improved in multiple ways through 147 RTÉ Toy Show Appeal grants announced today, and which were made possible by the generosity of viewers of last November’s Late Late Toy Show. 


The response once again from Late Late Toy Show viewers to the appeal will help transform the lives of 1.2 million children, young people and their families, with every county on the island benefitting from grants totalling almost €4million. 


Charity partner Community Foundation Ireland, which manages the grant process on behalf of RTÉ and its viewers, says that the competition for funding across the sector is intense, given the impact of cost of living on donations across the sector. The range of projects receiving funding are indicative of the range of challenges that children can face, but also of the innovative, practical and really valuable work being done by charities large and small, that are helping to make a difference.   



Announcing the grants Dee Forbes, outgoing Director-General of RTÉ said: 


“Children’s voices have always been at the very core of The Late Late Toy Show. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our viewers, thousands of children are now being supported in so many different ways.  To everyone who donated a huge thank you; this will help so many young lives in the year ahead and is a remarkable testimony to Ireland’s renowned generosity.” 


Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of Community Foundation Ireland added: 


“The RTÉ Toy Show Appeal continues to make an enormous contribution to our mission of Equality for All in Thriving Communities. Over three-years with the distribution of €17.6 million in total viewers have impacted on young lives in every part of our country. Children’s lives are being transformed thanks to the generosity shown by family, friends and neighbours who respond during the Toy Show to ensure the magic continues all year round.” 



RTE Toy Show Appeal graphic

Other Northern Ireland based organisations to receive funding are:


Extern Northern Ireland (Antrim & Newtownabbey)

Awarded £44,913 to support young refugee people living in Greater Belfast, by breaking down

the barriers to accessing or sustaining education, whilst supporting them gain skills to prepare for employment or further training.


Circusful (Belfast)

Awarded £9755.82 - Come to life at the circus! To improve the physical, emotional and social wellbeing of disabled and care experienced children and young people through the wonder and colour of circus.


Fighting Words Northern Ireland (Belfast)

Awarded £9756.38 - Writing The Next Chapter: transforming a creative space for young NI writers. To create a new creative writing hub in East Belfast that provides children and young people facing disadvantage with free access to inspiring after-school creative writing activities, mentoring and tutoring.


Newstart Education Centre (Belfast)

Awarded £47,750 to strengthening emotional wellbeing & educational attainment, through an early intervention programme that will improve the emotional and physical well-being of 30 young people aged 11-13yrs who are vulnerable and face complex challenges.



Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (Belfast)

Awarded £50,000 to ensuring inclusion in enterprise education by adapting proven mainstream enterprise and education activities to ensure impact for young people with additional needs.


Belfast & Lisburn Women's Aid (Belfast)

Awarded £34,186 - Power Project: Supporting teens who have lived with domestic abuse, violence and trauma in the home to explore their experiences therapeutically and build resilience in order to thrive in their adolescence and adult years as well as future relationships.


Northern Ireland Newpin (Derry & Strabane)

Awarded £9,965 - I Am Me Project: To offer children and young people the opportunity to have fun with their friends by taking part in creative, therapeutic activities to build their resilience and self-esteem; address their adversity and trauma through music, movement, drama, art therapy and mindfulness.


Foyle Down Syndrome Trust (Derry & Strabane)

Awarded £10,000 to run the Early Years Education Programme for children with Down syndrome that provides one-to-one bespoke, high quality, learning programme of fun activities, enabling them to reach their full potential, ensuring they take and enjoy their rightful place in their chosen educational setting.


• Friends of Parkview (Lisburn and Castlereagh)

Awarded £9,758 - Lending Library & Uniform Upcycling: Creating, maintaining and facilitating a

Lisburn and pop up resource library and uniform upcycling shop.


• Royal Mencap Society (Lisburn and Castlereagh)

Awarded £49,869 - FIVE (Friendship, Independence, Vitality, Engagement): To provide young people with learning disability aged 10-18 with opportunities to improve their physical and mental health and to develop skills to support their wellbeing in the longer term.


Downpatrick ASD Family Support Group (Newry, Mourne and Down)

Awarded £9,900 - Healthy Minds: To provide a range of therapeutic interventions aimed at children and young people on the Autism Spectrum to help boost mental and emotional health, resilience, confidence and self esteem in order to allow them to live fulfilled lives.


Cuan Kids Community Preschool (North Down & Ards)

Awarded £7089.26 to bring the indoors out, where children can establish their creative abilities, North Down and Ards delve into their imagination and create a sense of community and belonging through play with their peers within their local community.

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