First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, yesterday, joined the Step by Step Foundation and Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, in their annual ‘Light it up Blue’ Autism Awareness Walk, where she stressed on the importance of equal rights for persons living with Autism in Guyana. The walk, which was organised to raise funds for the Step by Step Foundation’s Autism programmes through the sale of t-shirts and other merchandise, saw a turnout of almost 200 participants from both public and private sector.
In her remarks to the participants, the First Lady, who is also the patron of the Step by Step Foundation, expressed that through this activity much needed awareness is being raised for the Autistic community. “For too long we have been hiding people with special needs; physical or psychological, in a corner in our homes. This is the time that we have to start bringing them out and showing them that they are equal with the rest of us. They have the same human rights and they have a need to have their needs addressed,” she said
Chairperson of Step by Step Foundation’s Executive Committee, Dr. Suraiya Ismail, gave a synopsis of the Foundation’s history as well as sensitised the participants and guests on Autism. Dr. Ismail then shared the goals for the Foundation’s 2018 work plan. “Step by Step Foundation has included in its work plan for 2018, a major focus area; Mainstreaming Autism in schools. We hope to collaborate with the Ministry Education in this area. We believe that mainstreaming students with Autism will encourage educators to take the time to understand the developmental effects of Autism and how they can adapt their classroom environments, encouraging each child to thrive in his or her own individual way. It will be beneficial for all students socially as they become more tolerant and accepting and are encouraged to show compassion and understanding of Autism,” she said.
Dr. Ismail also indicated that the Foundation would continue its collaborative work with Ministry of Education, execute fund raisers and communicate with the general public in an effort to raise awareness of the disorder.
Meanwhile, Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, a partner of the Step by Step Foundation since 2013, recommitted their support and the Bank’s General Manager, Mrs. Parbatie Khan said, “Together, we have created a movement to raise awareness, to provide support and to be an inspiration to families. I would like to reaffirm Republic Bank’s commitment to raising and growing Autism awareness in Guyana.”
The walk commenced at the Promenade Gardens and proceeded along Main, Waterloo and Middle streets Georgetown then culminated at Republic Bank’s New Market Street location. Following the walk, participants enjoyed a Zumba session to conclude the activity.