Tara Cunningham

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Tara Cunningham was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Tara is making the delivery of speech and language therapy accessible to caregivers—parents, teachers, and special needs assistants. After speaking to the parents of children with communication difficulties, Tara recognised that they have the motivation and ability to do much more when it comes to improving their child’s speech. In a weekly group setting, Tara’s organization, Release, teaches caregivers and children the practical skills and techniques they need to overcome communication difficulties. 
By shifting the focus of service delivery from the professional therapist to the parent and/or teacher, Tara is changing a dysfunctional and expensive system which is unable to meet the needs of people with communication difficulties. Almost one percent of the Irish population, 30,000 people are currently on waiting lists for speech and language therapy—a problem which persists around the world. Mobilising citizens as therapists is an inexpensive, fast and effective way to overcome our global need for professional therapists. Tara is working with academic institutions, citizen sector groups and funders around the world eager to find new solutions.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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