Sokong Team
Thu Apr 25 2024

"It's Okay To Be Different" ends with resounding success

This article features :

In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) on April 2nd, a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly to raise global awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), April became a month of vibrant initiatives across the globe. Among these initiatives, Malaysia stood out with the "It's Okay To Be Different" event, held on April 20th at GMBB, a vibrant community space nestled in Bukit Bintang's Jalan Robertson.

This event served as a rallying point, uniting non-governmental organisations (NGOs), individuals, and the broader community in their commitment to support individuals with ASD. From counselling services to educational resources, talent development programs to pathways for employment, a spectrum of services was offered, demonstrating a collective effort to foster inclusivity and understanding.

"As hosts, GMBB is encouraged by the participation that we had at the bazaar and the talk. The point of having such events is to create awareness, which I believe was achieved during the event," said Ms. Lim Ying Hui, GMBB's General Manager, expressing hopes for even greater participation in the future.

At the heart of the event's success was Mr. JC Lee, the curator of the event and a dedicated volunteer known for his advocacy for autism-related causes. "That was most important for me, in line with the spirit of autism awareness, and we were able to provide a platform for engagement between the public and autistic community as we move closer towards integration and inclusion," he emphasised.

IMG_2248 (1).JPG Ms. Lim Ying Hui on the left, and Mr. JC Lee on the right together with the Sokong team.

Ten organisations, including Spectrum By ESA, Pokokon, Miles Autism Academy, and Stand Pie Me, actively participated in the event, showcasing their commitment to empowering individuals with ASD.

Spectrum By ESA 1_11zon.jpg The event provided a valuable platform to engage with both the general public and families affected by autism. "Visitors to our booth were both the general public and family members of autistic persons providing valuable interactions with us," said co-founder Mr. Adely Bin Ariffin.

Pokokon 2 (1).jpg Aptly named after the Malay word for 'tree,' demonstrated its dedication to providing job and income opportunities for special youths. "The idea of Pokokon is to provide income for youths with disabilities and expose them to mainstream society where they can interact as much as possible," said Ms. Carine Hoo.

Miles Autism Academy 3 (1).jpg With its comprehensive range of services, echoed a vision of equal opportunities for individuals on the spectrum. "I am encouraged by the response. I look forward to more enriching public engagements, advocating for educational talks to be featured prominently in next year's World Autism Awareness Day event," said Ms. Low Ree Ta, the Academy's Co-founder.

Stand Pie Me 4_11zon.jpg A social enterprise employing youth with special needs, celebrated the event's success, having sold out all 80 pies brought to the bazaar. "We not only sold all of the 80 pies we brought to 'It's Okay To Be Different,' but received some donations too, so it was a successful event which also allowed us to introduce people to Stand Pie Me," said Chairperson Sarjit Singh.

Sokong 5 (1).JPG

The digital donation platform played a crucial role as the event's media partner, showcasing its commitment to supporting charitable causes. "Our booth had around 50 visitors throughout the day. While the kids and young adults were more interactive, adults were interested in Sokong's services and the autism awareness campaign," said Ms. Samantha Ho, Sokong's Assistant Manager.

As the event concluded, Sokong pledged to continue to showcase its Community Art Project from the event at the Malaysiakini Office for public participation and viewing in support of Autism Awareness, ensuring that the spirit of inclusivity and acceptance thrives beyond the confines of a single event.

In retrospect, the "It's Okay To Be Different" event stands as a testament to the power of community, compassion, and collaboration. Through collective action and unwavering support, each participant reaffirmed the message that embracing differences is not only okay but essential for a more inclusive and empathetic society.

by malaysiakini

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