The Sing For Joy Choir based in Portlaoise is blazing a trail for inclusion in Kildare.
The community choir, under leader Maureen Culleton sings at church and community events across the county and hosts a number of service users from Nua Healthcare (Nua).
Nua provides intellectual disability and mental health support services in a number of areas in Kildare and neighbouring counties.
Choir Leader, Maureen Culleton said that the choir is going from strength to strength: “We started about six years ago and now have up to 50 participants from Nua and other care centers in Co. Laois and beyond.
“We have weekly rehearsals in Portlaoise and we perform in churches and community centers.
“The choir provides a relaxed, inclusive and stress-free environment for people with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues.
“It provides a huge fillip for members and increases their self-esteem and pride.
“The choir is accessible to everyone. There are no auditions, no judgement and everybody’s effort and contribution is respected and appreciated.
“Our friends from Nua are a key part of our group. We are thrilled to be able to support them and they make an important contribution to our performance.”
Speaking today, Nua service users Shane and Eoin said that their involvement with the choir was an important part of their lives: “we love singing and music and we get huge enjoyment from the choir.
“It involves us directly with the community and allows us to express ourselves, meet new people and it increases our confidence.”
Pictured below are choir Leader Maureen Culleton with choir members from Nua, Shane, Eoin, Kenneth and Joe.