April has for some years now been hailed worldwide as the month for showing support to those living with autism, estimated by the Egyptian Autistic Society to locally afflict one in every 300, with higher incidences among boys.
Just as red ribbons have come to symbolise campaigns in support of those afflicted with AIDS, and as the world turns pink in October to raise awareness about breast cancer, so too has the colour blue become synonymous with solidarity towards autistic individuals.
This April, a number of schools in Egypt have actively played their educational part by exposing their students to facts on autism and igniting their curiosity to learn more about the condition. Lectures were delivered, happy dances were performed and the colour blue was everywhere. Children donned blue outfits -- some of them creating blue ribbon formations in school playgrounds -- and blue flags were widely displayed.
“After years of watching different entities feign oblivion about the autistic children all around us, the sight of students displaying the interest to know more fills my heart with unparalleled warmth and joy,” Heba Fouad, whose youngest child among three was diagnosed with autism seven years ago, told Ahram Online.
photo: EAS (Funyard preschool)
Established in 1999, the Egyptian Autistic Society (EAS) is one of the most notable pioneering communities extending support to those living with autism as well as their families.
More recently, numerous other bodies -- such as Cairo Runners and Egypt’s GBI (Global Biking Initiative) -- have adopted the cause of raising awareness about autism in their weekly activities.
Scheduled events throughout the month, as announced by EAS, will include bathing The Citadel and the Giza Pyramids in blue light, walks in Zamalek, a carnival at the Shooting Club in Cairo, and the launch of an autism unit at the Abbassiya Hospital.
A number of celebrities and sporting initiatives have also already been shown donning the colour in solidarity.