By Foday Moriba Conteh
As part of their continuous support in raising awareness on children living with Autism in the country, the Sierra Leone Autistic Society in collaboration with One Family People has on Saturday 10th April, 2021 held a family Affairs Musical Concert in honour of World Autism Awareness on the theme: “Empowerment of Young Persons with Autism Creating Inclusion in the Workplace, Highlighting Challenges and Opportunities in a Post Pandemic Sierra Leone”. The event took place at Babadorie Hill, Lumley in Freetown.
The event created the opportunity for children living with Autism to showcase their God given talents through musical performances in front of their parents and Guardians as well as invited guests.
Speaking to this medium in an exclusive interview, the Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Autistic Society, Mary Penntimity, noted that the event is held in honour of World Autism Awareness.
She revealed that World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day which is observed on the 2nd of April every year, during which period countries are encouraged to take measures to raise awareness about people with autistic spectrum disorders. It was in that vein they thought it fit to hold a Family Affairs Musical Concert which availed the children living with Autism the opportunity to use their God given talents to express themselves, adding that children living with Autism have talents and abilities like any other children.
Mary Penntimity noted that her organization has been providing support for autistic children, young people and their families in Sierra Leone since inception, adding that they started with few children but now runs play schemes, have youth groups and support groups, furthering that their activities include providing vital community support and reducing the profound and dangerous isolation of autistic children furthering that they have also succeeded in establishing a school for these children.
She further revealed that the event itself is an eye-opener for parents and guardians to know that regardless of the fact that this children are living with Autism they still have God-given talents and they are very important in society.
She ended by calling on all to stop the discrimination against children living with Autism but rather should see them as very important children in society and help in creating the enabling environment for them.
On her part, the Operations Director of One Family People, Hadiatou Diallo noted that her organization is a disability focused organization that has been working tremendously in creating a conducive environment for people living with disabilities across the country.
She added that World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day on the 2nd April every year geared towards raising awareness about people with autism and it against that backdrop they decided to partner with the Sierra Leone Autistic Society in order to give their support as an organization with the strong conviction that such will be helpful.
Hadiatou Diallo pointed out that they are very committed to see that they render their support to organizations working in the interest of people living with disability, furthering that although they have disabilities they should not be discriminated against but rather should be seen as useful children in society.
She commended the Government of Sierra Leone for their strides towards catering for people living with disabilities across the country owing to the fact that Sierra Leone has made notable progress in promoting inclusive development of which it domesticated the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) into the Disability Act of 2011. Following that, Sierra Leone established the National Commission for Persons with Disability in 2012 to ensure that the Disability Act was translated into practice.
She also used the opportunity to call on all to complement the efforts of the Government in creating an inclusive environment for people living with disability more especially children living with Autism which she said deserve more care and attention.