Transforming Lives: Crann’s Innovative Approach to Holistic Disability Care

“Last year my daughter could not get up on a step, even a small step, she didn’t have the confidence to do it, she was kind of afraid. And the difference from last year to this year, it’s just amazing. She feels more confident. She knows she’ll get there. It might be a small step now, but I know she’ll get better.”

– Parent of Child attending Skills on Wheels

An estimated 1.3 billion individuals, or 16% of the global population, experience significant disabilities. However, they often struggle to access the support they require, leading to isolation within their communities.

In 2014, Kate Jarvey noticed a significant population of individuals with Spina Bifida in County Cork, Ireland lacked crucial services for health, education, employment, and social inclusion, prompting her to conduct a needs assessment revealing challenges like service unavailability, social isolation, missed opportunities, and diminished hope among Irish families. In response, Kate founded the Crann Centre with a mission to revolutionize the fragmented care system for individuals with neuro-physical disabilities and their families. In 2018, this mission became a reality when Crann Centre opened its doors. Today, Crann offers life-long, transformative support for over 400 clients and their families, addressing conditions like Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, and more.

Crann’s ethos is to recognise that both the person with disability and their family need support to flourish. That’s why it’s pioneering a new model of care, as the first organization to adapt the Aspen Institute’s 2 Generation (2Gen) approach for disability. Crann’s Model of Care provides holistic & comprehensive care through six service areas including psychological wellbeing, health and continence, education and career pathways, mobility, independent living, and social capital.

In 2022, Crann conducted a Social Return On Investment (SROI) study, revealing that every €1 spent on services was perceived as having a value of €4.05 by clients. Additionally, Crann introduced Ireland’s first fully accessible playground and a conservation park on a 20-acre site, designed with input from client families to create an inclusive space that has enhanced Crann’s services and aims to inspire other organizations to develop accessible facilities.

Image:Inside the Crann Centre

The Crann Centre has partnered with CAF America since its earliest days, as both a validated grantee and as a Friends Fund that can solicit contributions from US donors. Since [2020], CAF America has granted over $279,200 to the Crann Centre, supporting a variety of initiatives, like their Skills on Wheels mobility program and contributing to core services in their formative years as they grew their team of specialists.

Skills on Wheels is an evidence-based mobility program that enables clients to safely and independently use their wheelchair to increase their participation in daily living. The program was delivered on a one-to-one basis and in group camps at Easter and during the Summer of 2023. One of the key developments were camps which focused on adult/teens and power wheelchair users. In keeping with the 2 Gen model, parents and guardians participated in the sessions, helping to reinforce the learning. In addition to client sessions and camps, training was delivered to The Rebel Wheelers Sports Group who participate in Wheelchair Sports.

Skills on Wheels is led by Crann’s program manager for occupational therapy Maura Kelleher and Dr. Tony Chase, an assistant professor of Indiana University School of Medicine’s occupational therapy program. Maura says,

“Key elements of the ‘Skills on Wheels Training Program’ includes working with individuals to assess their physical, cognitive and visual perceptual skills to create a goal oriented program designed to help clients to interact effectively with their wheelchair and the environment. We focus on everyday skills, for example, propelling a wheelchair, managing curbs, ramps, uneven surfaces, opening heavy doors, transfers and weight shifting in their wheelchair. Skills on Wheels will help clients optimize the use of their manual & powered wheelchair and reduce the risk of accident or injury.”

Maura added – “The outcomes for the participants in the program include greater independence in using a wheelchair as well as improved emotional wellbeing & confidence, and increased opportunities for participation in leisure, education and work.”

“I’ve loved that the parents have been involved because we know how to encourage them to do it the right way when we go away from here [Skills on Wheels Camp] and seeing the difference that using the right technique makes is fantastic.” – Parent of Child attending Skills on Wheels

With the support of CAF America and our generous donors, Crann continues to collaborate with organizations and individuals in order to build better services and support for children, adults and families living with neuro-physical disability. Learn more about the Crann Centre at

Profile of Impact

CAF America’s team conducted a long form interview with the Crann Centre on their work, the influence of the Sustainable Development Goals, their upcoming initiatives. If you’d like to learn more about the Crann Centre, you can ready their Profile of Impact below.

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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