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Changing Lives through ELI: Celebrating RTÉ’s Toy Show Appeal

On Thursday, June 27th, 2024, the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal in partnership with Community Foundation Ireland proudly announced that 122 grants were made possible by the generosity of viewers of last November’s Late Late Toy Show, and they will improve the lives of many children across Ireland in many significant ways.  

At National College of Ireland, we are thrilled to announce that Early Learning Initiative (ELI) will be one of the many wonderful organisations across Ireland to receive funding. 

The Grants Panel have awarded €40,000.00 to ELI's Parenting 365 Programme: A family-centred support programme for children with developmental delays and additional needs, that provides the children with a safe and inclusive play space to explore their abilities and weekly parent support sessions with input from experts.


“Ní neart go cur le chéile; there’s no strength without unity, strength comes from collaboration.” ~  Dr Josephine Bleach, Director of Early Learning Initiative 


The overwhelming response to the appeal will help transform the lives of 1.1 million children, young people, and their families in Ireland, with every county on the island benefitting from grants totalling €3.6million. Inspired by Saoirse Ruane’s story, the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal began in 2020, and although sadly Saoirse is no longer with us, her legacy will endure with The Toy Show Appeal.  


“The RTÉ Toy Show Appeal is one of the most important things that we do as an organisation. We are so grateful for the support of our Late Late Toy Show audience whose generosity has ensured that RTÉ can continue to make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of children, and their families across the island, north and south. Children have always been the inspiration behind the Late Late Toy Show and have, in turn, inspired the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal, not least, Saoirse Ruane who will be remembered as someone who made such a positive and lasting impact on us all. Her memory will live on through the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal and the many young lives that will be transformed.” ~ Kevin Bakhurst, RTÉ Director General. 


The Early Learning Initiative at National College of Ireland was developed to address the problem of educational underachievement in marginalised communities. ELI’s mission is to work with communities in areas of greatest need, to provide world-class parent and child learning support programmes.  

Research conducted in Ireland and beyond shows that early learning is the foundation for all learning that will follow in a child’s life. Differences can be seen in language and numerical developments between children from wealthier vs disadvantaged backgrounds from as early as three years of age. This gap will only continue to widen if it is not addressed before children go to playschool. It is an unfortunate reality that without early interventions from programmes like ELI, for many children from disadvantaged areas, their chances to thrive as they grow up are decided before they even have the chance to enter formal education. The Early Learning Initiative aims to break those generational cycles by making education accessible to all through various methods of supporting families.  

The work of ELI is made possible because of the many people who come together to ensure that young people and their families are given the support they need to develop the skills and knowledge needed to allow them to thrive and achieve their academic, career, and personal life goals. This support comes in the form of training, activities, and supports for children, parents, guardians, and educators from birth, delivered by ELI’s network of parents, guardians, Public Healthcare nurses, community and youth workers alongside corporate volunteers and educators from primary to third level. 

It is fantastic that ELI will benefit from the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal, we want to thank RTÉ Toy Show Appeal and Community Foundation Ireland for their support. We also want to thank and congratulate the ELI team for their continued dedication to changing the lives of children and their families through significant, hands-on supports.  
To learn more about the Early Learning Initiative and how you can show your support, visit the official ELI homepage.