About LeapLeap is a family-led, non-profit organisation that works on behalf of children and adults with disabilities and their families.
Leap is a family-led, non-profit
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 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 integrated environment for people with disabilities
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 Local Area Coordination.
We encourage families and service providers 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 integration of people with disabilities and do not promote models which advocate separate settings.
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 VisionChildren and families living their lives to the full and enjoying a good life, relationships, belonging and socially valued roles.
To empower families to take action for an inclusive life
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 got very little support and training to engage with supports and services.
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.
DirectorRachel has two sons, and lives with her younger son, her partner and their dog in the midlands. Her eldest son lives in his own apartment and is pursuing his dream of a good life. Rachel is the co-founder of Leap and is passionate about people being supported to live their lives to the full. Rachel was a member of the first Irish Social Role Valorisation (SRV) study group. SRV is described as ‘the pursuit of the good things in life for people via the pursuit of valued social roles for them’. Rachel believes that when families develop a positive vision for their son or daughter, brother or sister with a disability; they are in a better position to promote to others the gifts, potential and contributions of their family member. Rachel is a member of Transforming Lives Working Group 3, Effective Participation in Decision-Making for people and families and a member of the Task Force on Personalised Budgets.
AssociateBreda Whelan is a guidance counsellor and a parent of three teenage boys and she lives with her family in Ennis, Co. Clare. Breda is passionate about inclusion and an ordinary life for all and became involved with Leap after attending one of their Family Leadership Adventure Breaks in Cavan. Since then she has worked to develop the vision and reach of the organisation and has also begun to co-facilitate family workshops. Breda believes that families need support and encouragement from other families to imagine a positive future and to take action towards the best life possible.
It was the passion and commitment to see families become the leaders in their own lives and focus on the living of a good life for all that drew me to Leap and the work they were doing. They have the knowledge and courage to enable individuals and families to seek a different way, a better way of living than what is being offered by disability services. It is a privilege to now be able to play my own small part in this.
I started out working in youth and community work and then moved into training and development. My qualifications include a National Diploma in Social Care, a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration and an MA in Health Care Management.
My interests include writing and I have published a book on Leadership. I enjoy going to live sporting events and being involved in my local area in Dublin as a presenter on Phoenix FM, our community radio station.