About Leap

Leap is a family-led, non-profit organisation that works with children and young people with disabilities and their families.

Leap is a family-led, non-profit organisation that works with children and young people with disabilities and their families. We work with families, their supporters and allies and their communities of place. We focus our efforts on increasing expectations of what is possible in the lives of people with disabilities. We assist people and families to take action on what matters to them towards the goal of a good life, an ordinary life.

We assist

We assist families to build a vision of a good life and focus on relationships, belonging and socially valued roles for their family member with a disability. Leap works with families to develop their leadership skills by increasing their understanding of how to bring about positive change in the life of their family member with a disability.

We understand

We understand that when families are in a state of resignation and/or hopelessness and have not had opportunities to access support, they frequently place the responsibility for a good life at the door of the service system.

We actively support

We actively support the least restrictive, most inclusive environment for people with disabilities

We provide

We provide a range of opportunities for families to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively promote the uniqueness and interests of their own family member. We base our educational work on powerful theories and approaches including Social Role Valorisation (SRV) and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD).

We encourage

We encourage families to move away from a focus on the persons impairment and toward a more holistic understanding of what the person and family wants.  People and families’ fundamental needs are for inclusion, participation relationships, value and respect.  From this perspective, we support the full inclusion of people with disabilities and do not promote models which advocate separate settings.

We know

We know that people do better when their families are vested in their future, are connected to positive networks and are imbued with a sense of hope.

Our Vision

Inclusive Neighbourhoods

Our Mission

To assist families to take action for an inclusive life

We value:

An inclusive/ordinary life
Community capacity
Never giving up – persistent and consistent
Connection and collective action
People with disabilities as being of equal worth and value
Families as foundational in their capacity to pursue inclusive lives and drive social change

Who we are

Leap started out in 2009 as a group of family members and professional allies (people who worked in services who knew the system and who were invited in to support family members in doing things a different way). Each person in the group believed that families needed support to imagine and create an inclusive life for their son or daughter, brother or sister.

The group came together to coordinate a suite of training for families of people with intellectual disabilities and Autism in areas such as Circles of Support, Communication, Person Centred Planning, Advocacy etc. In 2011, Rachel Cassen and Claire Murphy ran a number of Family Leadership Adventure Breaks where families got an opportunity to come together and talk, have fun and learn together and Leap as a social enterprise was born.

The duo won a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator Award in 2012 in recognition of their work. Today, Leap is led by Rachel who is supported by a number of associates who believe in the vision and values that Leap is working towards.



Leap provided us with fantastic support on working with families. The two days of training they delivered provided staff with an honest platform to discuss proactive ways to engage families, to understand what is service business and what is family business, as well as reflection on their roles. The training provided a way of valuing and enhancing the role support workers provide and feedback indicated staff really appreciated the opportunity to learn and develop their skills and understanding. We look forward to working with you again! Thank you.

May 2016

When I came away after the Leap weekend I was on fire. I really think it’s the way forward and it has really filled in the gap in my head that was missing. I think it’s brilliant for all agencies to be involved but I think the real change has to be on the ground through families! Families and their aspirations for their loved ones really change things especially in extended family, neighbours, community and society. Always remember you can read books, study it but we are the ones who live and breathe this every day of our lives.
Parent who attended Family Leadership Adventure Break

April 2016


Rachel Cassen

Rachel Cassen

Director of Leap

Rachel is the Co- Founder and Director of Leap. Leap is a family-led, non-profit organisation established in 2012 that assists families of children with disabilities to take action for an inclusive life. Rachel believes that families are foundational in their capacity to pursue inclusive lives and drive social change. Rachel has grown Leap to become a community of families who can access really useful knowledge and support from one another in order to navigate life stages and to stay on an inclusive life path.
Rachel thinks that it is through people’s connections that change happens and that it is our relationships that pave the way for us to imagine, experience and enjoy a life rich in opportunity and personal growth.
Trevor Hewitt

Trevor Hewitt

Inclusion Facilitator

Drawing on over a decade of experience in the community and voluntary sector, Trevor is passionate about creating the right environment for people to enjoy an inclusive life.
In 2011, Trevor was introduced to a theory of practice called Social Role Valorisation (SRV) which has been transformative in his work. Trevor’s implementation of SRV in his own work has acted as a catalyst for change and helped break down the barriers that can get in the way of people achieving a good life.

Trevor takes a continuous approach to education and self-improvement by regularly attending relevant workshops and seminars and by keeping up to date with international best practice. Trevor has an Honours Degree in Social Policy. He has experience in the areas of change management, meaningful employment, workshop facilitation and policy formation.

He holds a black belt in karate as well as being a keen sports and music fan. Trevor is married to Angela and they have two daughters.

Keara Campbell

Keara Campbell


Keara Campbell is the mother of three teenage boys and lives with her sons, her husband, and their dog in the West of Ireland. Keara is a nurse and the current Chairperson of Leap. Keara became involved with Leap after attending one of their Family Leadership Adventure Breaks in Cavan in 2012. Keara’s middle son has just begun his secondary school education and Keara is actively advocating for his full inclusion in school. Keara is leading out on a new initiative for families connected to Leap called ‘Families for Inclusive Education’. Keara has co-facilitated Leap workshops, and was a presenter at Leap’s seminar on Inclusive Education in TCD in 2019. Keara and her family have travelled to North America immersing themselves in further learning opportunities with organisations that promote an Inclusive life for people with Intellectual disabilities and autism.
Deirdre Graham

Deirdre Graham

Board member

Deirdre Graham is the mother of three school-going children. Deirdre and her husband promote a vision of an inclusive ordinary life for all their children. Deirdre has commenced a Hardiman Scholarship PhD in NUIG exploring the perspectives of parents on the barriers and facilitators to achieving an ordinary life for their child with a disability. Deirdre is passionate that every child’s ability should be recognised and included in all aspects of life, towards the achievement of whatever goals and vision they aspire to.
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Board member

Patricia Murphy is a single mum to two young teenagers and works as a Helpline Adviser with MABS (Money Advice and Budgeting Service). In 2013 Leap opened her eyes to the hope and possibilities of an ordinary life, a good life for her son with Down syndrome and her family. She began to understand the beauty and simplicity of intentional acts to ensure that her family is an active part of their community and the give and take that involves. This, alongside planning sessions facilitated by Leap, has led to real positive outcomes in Patricia’s family’s life. She is also a member of Leap’s ‘Families for Inclusive Education’ group . Attending the local secondary school along with his sister has been a huge boost for Patrica’s son’s standing in the community and his own expectations of an ordinary life for himself.

Joe Mullen

Joe Mullen

Board member

Originally from Sligo, Joe is a father of 3, two boys and a girl living in Galway in the west of Ireland with his wife Claire. Joe is an engineer by profession and is active in the local GAA and school. He became involved with LEAP when he and his wife joined their Family Leadership Webinar Series. Having started on this journey of inclusion with their middle son Dylan, the series really spoke to both of them. Joe strongly believes in inclusion for everybody, no matter what the challenge being faced by that person.  He maintains you can effect change by the smallest of gestures when well supported and informed.

If you have any questions please contact us