At AFA, we realize that our mission ‘To facilitate a barrier free environment - informational, attitudinal and physical – to create opportunities for education, employment and socialization for persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)’ has its roots in creating awareness about autism and bringing autism out of the ‘closet’. Our awareness raising activities are therefore focused on reaching out to people from all walks of lives.
We organize a multitude of enjoyable events all of which incorporate a ‘fun element’ whilst raising awareness about autism such as celebrating World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) on 2 April, autism awareness walks, music concerts, dance performances, charity dinners, art shows and carnivals.
AFA has also made available an awareness film on autism from South Asia, entitled 'Autism: An Indian Perspective.'
Annual Charity Dinner
AFA has been hosting its ‘Annual Charity Dinner’ over the years to celebrate differences and diversity through an evening of gaiety. This gala event is an opportunity for the luminaries of Delhi to let their hair down, get a peek into the kaleidoscopic world of autism, and extend their support to a worthy cause.
The ‘Annual Charity Dinner' aims to sensitise and raise awareness amongst an influential section of society, change makers and the corporate sector, and to raise funds for various activities and projects run by AFA. Various services and projects have been focused on like the Aadhaar Vocational Centre and ANANDA, the residence-cum-rehabilitation complex for persons with autism.
Many guests of honour have graced this occassion like *Ambassador Mr. Feilim McLaughlin of Ireland and his wife Sonya McGuinness *Mr. Gerald Kelly Deputy Chief of Mission Irish Embassy and Madam Mellissa *Mr. Kenneth Thompson former Ambassador of the Irish Embassy *Shri Anand Sharma *Hon Min of Commerce and Industry *Ms. Lavina Collins Deputy Chief of Mission of Irish Aid *Mr. Surinder P Kanwar and Mr. Sameer Kanwar of Bharat Gears *Mr. Sachit Kanwar of Raunaq International *Mr. Aseem Kapoor and Mr. Timothy Bruce of Hyatt Regency *Mr. Onkar Kanwar of Apollo Tyres *Mr.Romesh Chandra of Unitech *Ms. Deepa Menon, CSR Head of PVR, *artist Mr. Jatin Das *danseuses Shovana Narayan and Sharon Lowen, and other notable personalities.
The charity dinners also include an exhibition cum sale of works of art by famous artists. A part of the proceeds from the sale of these works are donated to AFA. Some of the artists extend their generosity further by donating some of their works, the entire sale proceeds of which are given to AFA. In the past paintings by Kishore Roy, Sonia Rodrigues Sabharwal, Vinita Karim, Bharti Dayal, Pushpa Devi and sculptures of Bipin Martha and Raj Kumar Panwar have been exhibited at the event.
Many corporates like Unitech, Apollo Tyres, Bharat Gears, Earnst & Young, Raunaq International, Hyatt Regency, Pernod Richard, Selan Explorations, Tilda Rice, Chivas etc, along with many socially conscious individuals have donated generously to make these dinners a success.
These evenings are made even more entertaining with acts by performers like Usha Uthup, performer par excellence, the flamenco dancer Paola Santa Cruz, stand-up comedian Anuvab Pal, live music and games with lots of prizes to be won.
The ‘Annual Charity Dinner’ has always been an evening of fun, food, and art; it is an event that is much anticipated every year by many.
Music Concerts & Dance Performances
The awareness concerts organized by AFA are always crowd pullers, and our crowd includes both young and old! In addition to being an excellent platform to spread awareness amongst people across all ages and vocations, the concerts also act as fundraisers for the programmes and services of AFA.
AFA has been fortunate to have some famous artistes/ groups perform at these concerts like Parikrama, Euphoria, Shovana Narayan, Shubha Mudgal, Sharon Lowen, Just Us (Kanika Satyanand, Uma Singh Bordoloi, Anu Chopra), Usha Uthup and Indian Ocean.
AFA participates in walks organzied for a cause such as the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. In addition we periodically organize ‘Walks for Autism’ to raise public awareness about autism.
Staff members of AFA, students of Open Door and other services of AFA, their parents and siblings, trainees of D Ed Spl Ed, friends and supporters of AFA celebrities, and the general public join in to make these walks a success. Participants wear the Action For Autism T-shirts that flash the AFA belief: Different...and proud of it’. These fun walks often include raffles, refreshments, and entertainment.
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD)
The United Nations on 19 November 2007 by unanimous consent declared 2nd April as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) starting in 2008. This, needless to say, was a historical marker for the autism community throughout the world, a large section of whom remain invisible and outside the ambit of basic services suited to their needs.
The autism community across the world is now celebrating WAAD. Through April events are organized by people with autism, their parents, other care givers and autism groups in honor of this day. From Colombia to Cameroon, Malaysia to Malta, walks, seminars, discussions, plays, performances, radio programs, presentations, art carnivals, meetings with heads of state and local dignitaries are organised. All activities aim to bring autism into our social consciousness.
Joining hands to strengthen this worldwide movement, The National Centre for Autism organizes the Autism Awareness Jamboree-AAJ on 2nd April to step up awareness of autism. The major attractions of the AAJ are the Art Carnival for children from special needs and mainstream schools, and the Free Multidisciplinary Consultation Camp at the amphitheater at India Habitat Centre.