The SYNAPSIS Foundation in partnership with Orange foundations in Poland and France, has published a new Polish edition of the book “Maria and I” written and illustrated by Miguel Gallardo, and has started a campaign to promote autism awareness across Poland.
On Maria’s t-shirt, it says “I am unique just like everyone else”. This phrase perfectly sums up the message of the book, about Miguel Gallardo’s daughter Maria who has autism. The SYNAPSIS Foundation is using the phrase to promote its autism awareness campaign which both shares knowledge about autism, and promotes the uniqueness of autistic people.
People with autism, like Maria, are special. They have strengths and unique interests. These characteristics inspired SYNAPSIS to start a discussion in Poland about finding out more about autism and people affected by it.
“I have never looked at autism from the aspect of superpowers. Now I will be looking for their strengths”
“I have never thought about autism this way. I have realised we should simply accept their need for a structured world”
“This book has opened my eyes that everyone is sometimes autistic”
These remarks were made by participants at meetings organised in several Polish cities such as Warsaw, Cracov, Gdansk and Łódź. There were over 500 guests, families of people with autism, friends, specialists and other people interested in autism. Everyone was inspired by the story, and felt that the book “Maria and I” is important for them.
A special event held during the national conference on autism and education organised by SYNAPSIS Foundation in Warsaw kicked-off the meetings. Miguel Gallardo participated and shared insights into his inspiring story. Teachers agreed that “Maria and I” should be read by all teachers in Poland.
See the photo gallery : www.facebook.com/mariaijapl
In another event, SYNAPSIS organised a showing of the documentary film “Maria and I” in one of the Warsaw cinemas (with subtitles in Polish). 150 people attended: all the seats were filled. People found the movie educational and recommended sharing it with a wider audience (on DVD or TV).
We will continue to promote autism awareness together with Fundacja Orange in 2013 amongst young children (6 – 9 years old) by using the short film “Maria’s Journey”. This new part of the campaign will be based on volunteers’ work. They will be supported with educational and multimedia materials to organise activities with children and to familiarise them with autism.
Agnieszka Fedejko, SYNAPSIS Foundation