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Monday, April 02, 2012

Blue Balloons for Autism

Blue ballons being released by the audience at Emancipation Park
Autism is a disorder of the neural development that manifests itself through impaired social interaction and communication as well as restrictive and repetitive behaviour. It is estimated that this disorder affects 1 in 88 children world wide. Autism no doubt robs a child of living a normal life and deprives them the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life. The effects of this condition also translates to the parents and caregivers who have to take special care in to attend to the needs of those affected by Autism. The plight of the persons affected by this condition and the emotional and financial strains of those family members who have to care for them. But how can the general public be sensitized bout Autism?

Autism Awareness banner at Emancipation Park
April has been selected as Autism Awareness Month with the purpose of sensitizing people worldwide about this condition that affects so many children and adults worldwide. The Jamaica Autism Support Association along with help from the Digicel Jamaica Foundation launched Autism Awareness Month on Sunday April 1, 2012 at the Emancipation Park with a ballon release ceremony. The ceremony featured a Prayer for Autism by Sarah Newland-Martin, a special poem for Autism written by a staff member of Digicel, musical entertainment by a drumming band comprising of Autistic children from Genesis Academy as well as songs from children of Promise Learning Centre, who are also affected my Autism. The ceremony culminated with the grand finale, the release of blue ballons that were handed out to the audience during the ceremony as well as balloons in the colours of our national flag. However, those who attended were not limited to only blue balloons as Dekal Wireless provided blue bulbs in support of Autism Awareness Month. I was there with my camera and took a few photos of the event to share with you all.

Child getting her face painted with pictures of blue balloons

Drumming being done by Autistic children from the Genesis Academy

Blue balloons being handed out to the audience by Digicel Jamaica Foundation volunteer Jodi Henry

A group of Autistic children from the Promise Learning Centre

A child in the audience receiving her balloon

Nicole Rochester reading Sarah Newland-Martin prayer for Autism

Kathy Chang Cofounder of Jamaica Autism Support Association

Christy Almeida member of the Jamaica Autism Support Association
Prof. Maureen Samms-Vaughn of the UHWI , Patron of JASA
Byron James Digicel employee reciting his poem for Autism

Samantha Cantrelle Executive Director of the Digicel Jamaica Foundation 

A member of the choir from the Promise Learning Centre signing during the song presentation

Member of the Audience enjoying the performance 

Audience member with blue balloons

A child with his blue balloon

Blue balloons being released by the crowd

Green, black and gold balloons being released

Another musical presentation from children of Promise Learning Centre

Audience member and her child at the ceremony

Blue light bulbs in support of Autism Awareness Month provided by Dekal Wireless
This ceremony was just the beginning of Autism Awareness month, as several buildings across the world, including Jamaica were lit in blue on April 2, 2012 in support of World Autism Awareness Day. Some of the local buildings and areas that were lit in blue included Emancipation Park, UWI Chapel, AZMART, Phillip Sherlock Centre UWI, the Digicel electronic message board as well as several homes across the island. There will aslo be other activities geared towards sensitizing the Jamaican public about Autism in a continued effort to gain support for those affected by Autism. Hopefully, this will result in an increase in the awareness as well as support for those who are directly and indirectly affected by this condition. For more information about Autism and how you can help you may contact the Jamaica Autism Support Association.

3 commented:

An excellent event held to make the public more aware about Autism. Great work Kathy and your team!


This looks like a well put-together event. . . just one thought though, what eventually happens to balloons we release?

LOL! Diedra, they float really high until the pressure in the balloon is greater than the outside atmospheric pressure then they pop.