Doha, QATAR –Shafallah Center For Children With Special Needs and Qatar Airways have announced a partnership to promote global awareness of autism. The two organisations have combined resources in a campaign that will run throughout the month of April and is timed to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day today, April 2.
The national carrier of the State of Qatar will be airing an in-flight public service announcement on all its flights, and distributing autism awareness pins and informational pamphlets on Qatar Airways’ flights to the United States on World Autism Awareness Day. The airline is also working with the Shafallah Center to train its cabin crew in disability awareness.
"The campaign to raise awareness of autism truly has wind under its wings now that Qatar Airways has partnered with us," said Hassan Ali Bin Ali, Chairman of Shafallah Center. "Such a campaign, to succeed, must be an effort of the whole society. Qatar Airways has shown once again why it is a leader in its industry and in our community."
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said the airline has the opportunity to highlight autism to a global audience and that it was a proud supporter of the Shafallah campaign.
“There is a great need for communities to better understand autism and its effects not only on those diagnosed with this condition, but also whole families who have a member or members challenged with autism. I feel that Qatar Airways can help spread positive messages to the travelling public, and help remove any stigma,” he said.
“With several million people flying to over 80 destinations around the world on Qatar Airways, the airline is in an excellent position to be able to reinforce the message of autism awareness.
I hope that as many people as possible come to know of this campaign and in turn develop some level of understanding of autism and its effects,” Al Baker added.
Autism is currently the world’s most recognisable and serious developmental disorder. It is estimated that as many as 67 million individuals worldwide are affected by autism, making it more common than paediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It is a life-long disorder with symptoms varying in severity and no definitive cure.
Warning signs include lack of the development of smiles or other facial expressions by nine months, no response when a child’s name is called by 10 months, no babbling by 12 months, no words by 16 months, lack of social interaction and exchange of sounds and any loss of acquired speech or social skills at any age.
Early diagnosis followed by intensive behavioural intervention programs are most successful methods known to research. The campaign seeks to highlight the importance of learning the early warning signs so that actions such as a diagnosis and speedy intervention can be initiated.
The Shafallah Center has established a hotline number where parents, teachers and the general public can call to ask for information. The number is: +974 495 6633, and specialists will be available to provide support and address questions and concerns relating to autism. A website has also been set up where people can find information, resources and seek advice. www.shafallahautism.org Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviours in their child and are encouraged to seek out information and help if they have concerns.
ABOUT THE SHAFALLAH CENTER
The Shafallah Center was established at the behest of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Misned so that Qatari society could provide comprehensive services to children with disabilities. The Shafallah Center is the first facility of its kind in the Arab and Muslim world. The centre offers state-of-the-art technologies, including an on-site Genetic Research Centre, cutting-edge therapies and first-class faculty and counsellors. The Center is a non-profit, private institution, serving as a model for the provision of special education, therapeutic, and health care support services for children with disabilities from birth to adulthood.
ABOUT QATAR AIRWAYS
Doha-based Qatar Airways has a strong record in supporting humanitarian initiatives, having sent aid to victims of the 2006 tsunami that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The airline has also delivered humanitarian aid to Darfur in Sudan, as well as offered to help re-build schools in China following the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in 2007 and also supporting the rebuilding efforts of victims of the strong tremors in Pakistan a year earlier in which thousands of people lost their lives.
Qatar Airways delivered three cargo plane loads of humanitarian aid to Gaza in 2008/09 as part of the relief efforts of the Qatari government. The airline employs over 14,000 people from 83 nationalities, and has offices in 90 countries around the world making Qatar Airways a truly international airline.
For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
Tel: +974 4496956, Fax: +974 4620132