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‘Inclusive education’ key message for World Autism Awareness Day

Staff and users at the Care Agency gathered ahead of World Autism Awareness Day to send a message of inclusivity.

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, an annual initiative that seeks to highlight this lifelong neurological condition that may be diagnosed during early childhood and sometimes later on in life, irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status.

The theme for this year is “Inclusive Education” and is fundamentally linked to last year’s theme, which was “Inclusion in the Workplace”.

The aim is to raise awareness and promote the conversation about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism affects girls and boys of all races and in all geographic regions and has a large impact on children, their families, communities, and societies.

Caring for and educating children and young people with this condition also places challenges on health care, education and training programs.

Autism forms part of the Gibraltar National Mental Health Strategy, which was launched in July last year after wide consultation.

The Ministry of Equality has been working over the past few years to raise awareness and understanding of autism through a number different events, although its programme was disrupted last year due to Covid-19.

As the situation is improving, it is envisaged that awareness and training events will be planned shortly.

In January this year, it was announced that the old St Martin’s School premises would be handed over to PossAbilities, which will use it to enhance and complement the provision already being given by the Government.

As is customary for World Autism Awareness Day in Gibraltar, Government had planned to have the Moorish Castle lit up with the colourful autism jigsaw puzzle symbols.

However, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the castle will continue to be lit up with the Ukrainian flag’s colours and as a mark of respect, will remain with these colours for the foreseeable future.

“With the easing of restrictions taking place and normality gradually returning, I am hopeful that we can resume with Autism Awareness events in the near future,” the Minister for Health and Equality, Samantha Sacramento, said.

“These events proved to be very popular with parents as well as with teachers, and a lot of questions were answered by experts in the field.”

“The raising of awareness of autism is very important for people to understand what autism is and how this can affect individuals to different degrees.”

SNAG

The Special Needs Action Group also marked World Autism Awareness Day, thanking businesses for their support and reminding Gibraltar that while inclusivity is the aim, “much work needs to be done to achieve this goal for members of our society”.

SNAG has partnered with the GFSB, Umee and Gibtelecom to disseminate the message of awareness throughout our community.

“The support of businesses has been overwhelming and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for reaching out to us and donating part of their profits,” SNAG said.

“The monies collected will be used to provide much needed after school activities for children and young adults with special needs, their siblings and their parents.”

On Friday, Midtown Bagel baked a Rainbow Bagel and donated 20% of the sale price.

Piece of Cake baked a Blue Heart cupcake and donated 50p on every Blue Heart Cupcake sold.

Eroski agreed to have collection tins in their premises for the next couple of weeks and all donations will be given to SNAG.

M&S have also agreed to have collection tins on Friday and today and all donations will be given to SNAG.

Today coffee TimeOut and Soul Kitchen will donate £1.00 to SNAG for every coffee they sell, while Raul Mesa Fitness will be holding a HITT class at Wellington Front for all the family at 11:00am.

Everyone is welcome and a minimum donation of £2.00 per person will be donated to SNAG.

A number of other businesses are reaching out to SNAG offering support in raising awareness in our community.

“SNAG has been campaigning long and hard to improve the Special Educational Needs that members of our community receive and will continue to press for a total inclusive society where everyone is equal irrespective of their abilities,” the group said.

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