By Siobhán Cronin
AS one West Cork town goes ‘blue’ to mark Austim Awareness Day this weekend, a neighbouring town has been urged to go ‘red’ for the day.
Blue is the internationally-adopted colour of autism awareness events and will be the theme colour in Clonakilty this weekend. The West Cork town is asking businesses and retailers to decorate their premises in blue, and also to turn down music, bright lights, or radios in-store, to create a more ‘autism friendly’ shopping experience.
But one Cork woman says the wants to celebrate ‘autistic minds’ with an alternative Walk in Red event which she is organising in Bandon.
Evaleen Whelton is managing director and teacher at Konfident Kidz, which aims to boost children’s self-esteem through drama, games, vocal exercises, and more.
‘I am very passionate about teaching children with autism through drama. I believe it is an invaluable tool in child development,’ she told The Southern Star. Evaleen realises that the autistic mind is often underestimated and should instead by appreciated, celebrated and valued.
Evaleen is running the ‘Walk in Red’ event in Bandon at 2pm on Saturday. ‘It is a celebration and acceptance of the neurodiverse mind,’ she said. ‘The event will involve the participation of talented autistic minds and Love and Celebration of the Autistic Mind is our theme.’
Participants should meet at the foot bridge on MacSwiney Quay at 2pm, she said, and are asked to wear something red, walk over the bridge and up to Bandon Town Hall.
‘At the Town Hall we will have autism advocate Fiona O’Leary as speaker, founder of ART Autistic Rights Together. We will also have music and entertainment, including singer Emily Doyle and poetry reading,’ outlined Evaleen.
‘Participants will be treated to red lemonade and red cupcakes while listening to speakers and entertainment. For the smallies we will have red face-painting. We also have the fantastic Fuinneamh Drum which is a 14ft community drum, built by female autistic artist Bounce. To play this drum all you need is a heartbeat and a smile. This will be outdoors after the meet-up in the Town Hall.’
Evaleen is also asking local businesses to support the event by asking staff to wear red and offer special deals on red items that day, eg beauticians to give special offers on red manicures etc.
Like the event in nearby Clonakilty, Evaleen is encouraging local businesses to make the town as autism-friendly as possible. ‘People with autism can find loud noises, sights, smells and lights very difficult to deal with. It can sometimes lead to sensory overload.’
Evaleen can be contacted on 087 2945977 and [email protected]