Autism Awareness Day sees community come together to support cause
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 19 April 2015: Staff members from one of Jeddah’s leading hotels came together to mark and support Autism Awareness Day last week, in association with the Jeddah Autism Center.
Rosewood Jeddah and Jeddah Autism Center partnered up with local cycling group Darrajati and Jeddah Cyclist to organise a 6km cycling event as part of their efforts to raise awareness of autism. The group of approximately 100 cyclists included team members from the hotel, Darrajati team, Jeddah Cyclist, a host of volunteers, children affected by autism and their parents and guardians.
As part of the ‘Light It Up Blue’ initiative, all cyclists wore matching badges and t-shirts before they set off from the hotel for the 90 minute cycle along Jeddah’s Northern Corniche. Before turning at the Tawheed roundabout, the group released blue balloons into the air as a mark of recognition for autism before they returned to the hotel entrance.
During a celebratory event at the hotel, every child with autism was awarded medals and certificates to congratulate them on completing the cycle. Parents of children with autism were also given family vouchers for Rosewood Jeddah’s popular Habsburg restaurant as gesture of support and appreciation.
Hans Peter-Leitzke, Managing Director of Rosewood Jeddah said, “Autism is a condition very close to our hearts and one which has seen support from all our staff members. We have worked closely with the Jeddah Autism Center for more than four years and the hotel played its part last week in supporting children with autism and their families.
“The cycling event was a fun day out and pedalling alongside a host of different people from our community was a pleasure. Our overriding aim is to raise awareness of autism in Saudi Arabia and offer support and assistance to families affected. I loved seeing the support of Jeddah residents on the Corniche cheering us along the route.”
Umaima Mohammed Ali Maghrabi, Head of the Jeddah Autism Center, added: “It is great to see initiatives of this kind in the Kingdom and everyone here has shown great enthusiasm for the initiative. The support of Rosewood Jeddah and Darrajati is always appreciated and goes a long way in raising awareness of autism.
“Autism is still a relatively unknown condition to many people in the Kingdom which is why raising awareness about it is so important. Knowledge and compassion is the basis of helping to ease the daily life of an autistic child in Jeddah.”
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that physical activities can play a role in improving the symptoms, behaviours and quality of life for people with autism. While exercise is important for all children, it can benefit children with autism especially because those on the autistic spectrum are at an additional risk of being overweight.
Since joining the Friends of Autism support group in 2011, Rosewood Jeddah has become a loyal supporter of Jeddah Autism Center and has been involved in a number of initiatives, such as last year “Light it up Blue” initiative, the Vertical Marathon run and the ´Lets’ paint a smile on children’s faces’ event where hotel staff members volunteered to make-over and freshen up a floor of the Jeddah Autism Center to create a more vibrant space for the children.