[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
This year’s World Autism Awareness Day, mandated by the General Assembly to raise public awareness about the disorder which affects individuals at their early developmental age, will be observed on Thursday, 2 April.
In December 2007, the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/62/139 set the date aside for the annual event. The inaugural observation was commemorated last year with a series of programmes across the world.
This week, the Department of Public Information (DPI), through its Outreach Division, in partnership with civil society organizations, is holding several activities at Headquarters and other locations to commemorate the day.
The week-long programme includes a briefing session by DPI's NGO Relations on "Human Rights and Autism," a lecture, author’s event and a musical performance offering an understanding of the experience of autism.
The following are some special events for the occasion:
On Wednesday, 1 April, under DPI’s "Meet the Author" series, Dr. Temple Grandin, the legendary scientist, educator and animal specialist will deliver a lecture on Autism in Conference Room 4 at 6:00 p.m., followed by a question and answer session. The distinguished author will also participate in a book signing event organized by the Autism Society of America.
On Thursday, 2 April, at 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., DPI's NGO Relations will hold a briefing on "Human Rights and Autism" in the DHL Auditorium. A panel of speakers will include specialists on mental disability rights, member states and representatives from civil society and academia. The event will feature the screening of a UNTV-produced documentary on the Autism condition.
At 10:30 am on the same day, Autism Speaks, under the joint sponsorship of the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN, and DPI will launch an art installation by Yoko Ono at the south end of the Visitors Lobby in the Secretariat to symbolize the struggle to determine the cause of Autism and how this mysterious disorder can be better understood. Kiyo Akasaka, USG for DPI, will deliver opening remarks and moderate the event.
A musical group, Sing SOS, sponsored by DPI, will perform "Songs of the Spectrum", a musical performance offering a window into the experience of autism,at 6:00 pmin DHL Auditorium.
On Friday, 3 April, at 6:00 p.m.DPI will present “Autism: The Musical”, the award-winning documentary produced by HBO. The event will take place in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. After the screening, the founder of the “Miracle Project” and the main character in the film, Ms. Elaine Hall, and the creators of film, cast and producers will participate in an interactive panel discussion, and will take questions from the audience. A group of children, including some of the actors, will also perform a number of songs from the film.
Among the events that have already taken place, on Monday, 30 March, Global Education Motivators (GEM), a Pennsylvania-based NGO, hosted an international videoconference in collaboration with DPI. The videoconference addressed the theme of Education and Autism, and was designed to allow teachers, educators and other specialists involved in the disorder to engage in a dialogue about their common experiences and concerns. Participants included Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia; Burnaby Schools, Burnaby, BC, Canada; National Autism Center in Dubai, UAE; UN Information Centre, Washington DC; the Mifne Center, Rosh Pinna, Israel; and UN Headquarters.