About ten years ago, Karen Leigh was appalled by the lack of support she could find for her children. Upon discussing with fellow parents, she realized that many children with special needs faced lengthy waiting lists and couldn’t access affordable and accessible occupational therapy services.

It is from her own experience then, and her dedication to the cause that Sensational Kids was born. This community and voluntary organisation is now celebrating a decade in business and employs 21 staff across its centres in Kildare and Cork.

The fact that parents from Donegal and Waterford have made the trip to bring their children to Sensational Kids for therapy sessions speaks volume of the charitable organisation’s success and expertise. So do the many awards it has been granted, such as the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Impact Award or the GSK Ireland Impact Award.

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Both founder and CEO of Sensational Kids, Leigh herself has been awarded the Network Ireland Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2017 in the Social Enterprise Category. Leigh’s and her charity’s success are impressive, especially when one is aware that they do not receive any state funding and make this endeavour successfully work through the dedication and sheer will of power. Asked about her achievements as an entrepreneur, Leigh’s answer is the epitome of humility. She is a mother first things first, and the mother to children with special needs. Leigh indeed speaks with passion of how much those services are needed across Ireland.

She is determined to help each children - not only the over 30000 children who have crossed Sensational Kids’ doors, but also those undiagnosed and those who have fallen through the education system net - reach their potential.

The expansion of Kildare’s premises and the opening of a third centre in the West of Ireland in 2018 will bring much welcomed relief to many families, and more specifically, to the 1 in 4 children in Ireland with a special educational need.

The Social Entrepreneur Award of WOTYA18 is sponsored by Huawei.