A regional Victorian teenager has plans to take the charity she started to help children with autism and intellectual disabilities beyond Australia to the rest of the world.
At 13 years old, Keeley Murphy was struggling in the mainstream school system.
Keeley has autism and as she prepared to tackle high school was also diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability diagnosis.
Her mother Sharon Murphy said her daughter became increasingly withdrawn and depressed.
“She thought she was stupid, and we told her she wasn’t, and she just had a different way of learning,” Ms Murphy said.
“She came out with, ‘You know what Mum, we have a right to an education as much as everyone else’.”
Despite her own hardships, Keeley was inspired to help other young students gain access to their own iPads to improve their lives by creating charity, Keeley’s Cause.
While most school students do have access to iPads, the devices are often shared and required to stay on campus.
The charity raises funds to enable families with children diagnosed with autism and intellectual disabilities to apply to get their own iPad at no cost.
Ms Murphy, the CEO of Keeley’s Cause, said the tablet was an invaluable tool that helped improve communication and in-classroom learning.
“It’s their world in a nutshell. You’ve got non-verbal kids that can have a voice through the iPads … communicate through picture-based word apps to describe their feelings,” she said.
“It’s giving kids a sense of self-worth.”
Hundreds of iPads donated
More than 300 iPads have been donated to children across the country since the charity was founded five years ago.
Now 18, Keeley has just finished Year 12 and has several prestigious awards under her belt, including the Diana Award in 2020.
Named after the late Princess Diana, the international award recognises social action or humanitarian efforts.
Giving Day reaches new heights
On Sunday, Keeley’s Cause had its biggest-ever Giving Day.
The annual event held in the teenager’s hometown of Ballan saw families with children living with disabilities gifted toys, hampers, and other goodies to make Christmas less financially stressful.
More than $10,000 worth of gifts were donated this year.
Keeley said she was “blown away” at the response.
“Thank you so much to everyone that came,” she said.
The charity has plans to expand its reach beyond Australia, starting with Nepal and Bangladesh.
“We want these kids who are going to be the next leaders of our world, to have everything they need … to be able to live in the world as best they can,” Keeley said.