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Supermum's bursary helps autistic islanders “channel their dreams”

Supermum's bursary helps autistic islanders “channel their dreams”

Sunday 16 May 2021

Supermum's bursary helps autistic islanders “channel their dreams”


A new bursary has launched to support autistic islanders in job hunting or daily life thanks to a "superwoman" mum, who raised more than £13,000 by swimming the Channel.

The Autism Jersey’s ‘Channel Your Dreams Bursary’ is now open to applications from people with autism aged 18 or over, with grants of up to £500 available.

The charity credited “the journey of passion and perseverance” of Karen Gallichan for creating the bursary.

The local “superwoman”, who manages Autism Jersey’s Boutique, said that as a mother of an adult on the autism spectrum, she realised there was a real need for such a bursary scheme.

To mark her 50th birthday, she decided to swim the Channel in the hope of raising £10,000 - a challenge she completed in September 2019 in just under 20 hours, raising a total of just over £13,000.

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Pictured: Avid swimmer Karen became the fastest woman to lap Jersey a few years ago.

“I think there tends to be an emphasis on children and family support, but our autistic children grow up to be autistic adults,” Karen said.

“People with autism may mature and learn at a different rate or struggle within the formal education system and it shouldn’t all be over at the age of 18. Where are you going to go as an adult to help pay for something which might enhance your employment prospects, if you haven’t got family who can support you? 

“The bursary is for people who need help perhaps extending an interest, gaining a qualification or maybe a piece of equipment that will really enhance their employment prospects or indeed their quality of life." 

This Sunday (16 May), the Jersey Long Distance Swim Club’s (JLDSC) will be hosting a Blue Swim in St. Catherine’s Bay to support the bursary. 

“The Blue Swim is great opportunity to experience sea swimming with the safety cover and support of the JLDSC,” the charity said. 

“Everyone is welcome and quick dips are more than fine! There will be cakes and #AwesomeForAutism swim caps on sale.”

Islanders wanting to learn more about the bursary can contact Karen via email or visit the Autism Jersey Boutique during opening hours.

Applications can be made on behalf of an individual by parents, carers or support workers.

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