The Changing Lives Initiative is a cross border initiative that arose from the need to address the deficiency in early psycho-social interventions for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Changing Lives Initiative is a community-based project that raises awareness of the implications of ADHD and provides support to families with young children showing consistent symptoms of the disorder. The project took the structure of three stages: the first two focused on raising awareness and on a screening process to assess children’s behaviour and symptoms, and the third was an intensive intervention that took the form of an evidence group-based training programme. The whole programme included twenty sessions lasting approximately 2 hours. Besides the families, participants in the programme included caregivers and professionals working with young children, such as schoolteachers.
The project took an innovative approach as it provided non-medical support to families experiencing ADHD. This form of support, which has previously been lacking in the area, aims to reduce stress and pressure on families by improving both the children’s behaviour and parent’s abilities to deal with the challenges posed by having a young child with ADHD. The project’s desired outcome is the to reduce families’ reliance on medicalized drugs and treatment.
The programme was led by five local organisations. The lead beneficiary was Clondalkin Behavioural Initiative Ltd (Archways), an Education Center in the Republic of Ireland. The other partners were theDundalk Institute of Technology, an educational institute located in Ireland, the Colin Neighbourhood, a partnership composed of local people, organisations and government bodies addressing issues affecting the people living in the Colin area in Norther Ireland, the NHS Highland in Scotland and lastly, the Genesis Programme, a consortium consisting of a wide range of stakeholders supporting the implementation of evidence-based programmes for children located in Ireland.
The Initiative is a cross-border project operating in County Louth (Ireland) and its surrounding border area, in Belfast and Lisburn (Northern Ireland) and in the Argyll & Bute Region (Scotland).
The total funding for this project was €3,023,143. It was provided by the EU Interreg VA Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland and by match funders: Departments of Health of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The programme started in September 2016 and ended in October 2020.
The Changing Lives Initiative has delivered 23 programmes, involving more than 800 families during the intensive group sessions. Moreover, besides the families, 1000 professionals were trained to work with children experiencing ADHD related behaviour. The project has significantly boosted the competences and resilience of the parents involved and resulted in improvements in the children’s behaviour. Moreover, the project has received support by relevant local stakeholders, such as education institutions and community health services, leading to the creation of a community, which has significantly improved the families’ experiences and enhanced the impact and the sustainability of the expected results from a long-term perspective.