Qatar Foundation (QF) is to host its 16th annual World Autism Awareness Day event on Sunday at Oxygen Park in Education City. The free to attend and open to the community event, aims to raise awareness and promote understanding of autism through a series of fun and educational activities, workshops, and games.
Hosted by QF's Pre-University Education, 23 entities will participate in the event, including Renad Academy, Awsaj Academy, The Learning Center, and the Ability Friendly Programme.
“Events such as the World Autism Awareness Day help promote understanding and acceptance of autism within the wider community,” said Rola Ayoub Satouf, autism specialist, Renad Academy. Satouf added that these events will encourage parents to be more open, to share their experiences with others to promote further understanding and acceptance within the community. “For some people, it may also be the first time to really see and understand autism. This is a great opportunity for them to learn more about the condition and to be more accepting and supportive.”
Satouf explained that to have true community inclusion, participation and acceptance is key. “Becoming part of any community takes time and effort. Individuals will have to learn the practices of the community and have to become accustomed to new things and people. Similarly, existing members of the community will have to learn and become accustomed to the new member. And this is not something to fear – in fact, it is something quite magnificent.
“Autism is a super ability, not a disability. We need to build upon existing abilities, interests, and skills rather than focusing on weaknesses.”
Activities on the day will be divided into three main areas. The entertainment section will screen episodes of Siraj – the edutainment TV series that helps children learn the Arabic language in a fun and engaging way – as well as a virtual reality station. The cultural section will feature a Majlis area, a workshop space, and an inflatable maze. And the food and beverage area will offer multiple refreshment stations, as well as inflatable football games.
The World Autism Awareness Day event at Oxygen Park is one of many taking place in April. Other initiatives include QF’s 2015 building being lit in blue from April 2-4 and PUE hosting an autism information booth in the 2015 building from April 4-6.
World Autism Awareness Day was first proposed by QF Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to the United Nations in 2007, and adopted without a vote by the UN General Assembly. The first World Autism Awareness Day was marked on April 2, 2008.
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