The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) on Friday launched Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month 2022 with a walk that began at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) and ended at Main Street, Georgetown.
Autism is a developmental disability that affects communication and behaviour. Education Minister Priya Manickchand during her remarks stated that disabilities should not separate persons from each other while noting that efforts of the State must include the formal and organised establishment of systems within institutions that allows Guyana to benefit from the skills and talents of persons living with autism.
“Every time we prevent persons with differences to contribute to development, we are taking away from that person the opportunity to be all that they can be,” she noted.
Manickchand related that autism awareness must continue so that the wider society can understand what it is and how it can be managed. She posited that this must be taught through the curriculum in schools and the training offered at the Cyril Potter College of Education.
Further, she explained that it requires the home, the church, the school, the work environment and the country as a whole to actively address how persons with disabilities can participate in school, the workforce and the country’s development as a matter of policy and human right.
In addition, Chief Executive Officer of GPL, Bharat Dindyal hopes the “light” that was ignited to raise awareness about autism, continues to shine for the rest of the year and into the future. Dindyal said that he hopes that the launch can galvanise conversation and see initiatives focused on addressing the issue.
Moreover, he stated that the company’s participation is intended to be a part of the power company’s anniversary celebrations this year but pledged the company’s continued partnership in highlighting and raising awareness about autism.
National Special Education Needs (SEN) Officer, Savvie Hopkinson said that Friday’s observance celebrates the resilience of those affected by the disorder and supports causes that promote awareness of the developmental condition.
She said that Autism Month is being observed under the theme: “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.”
Hopkinson added that with the growing confidence that the worse of the COVID-19 pandemic is passing, there can be an examination of whether there have been reversals of the gains made in addressing the effects of autism.
“As always, the wellbeing of our students must be our first and primary concern. This Autism Month must therefore serve to refocus educators, reenergise parents and mobilise communities,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Director of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD), Quenita Walrond-Lewis said that NCERD’s SEN Unit is thrilled to lead the charge in heightening awareness of autism. She said that Friday’s activity is a signal that the agency and the Ministry are gaining ground to champion not just awareness but longer strides to inclusivity not only in education but also in creating pathways for inclusion in the workplace.