Mammootty, Mohanlal, Kunchacko Boban, Jagadish, Menaka Suresh, Divya Unni and Nandu were among the celebrities who joined entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and artistes to talk about autism and its many aspects.
Organised by The Centre for Autism and other Disabilities Rehabilitation Research and Education (CADRRE), the series of videos, uploaded on their Youtube channel and social media, are meant to raise awareness on autism and the need to work towards an inclusive society.
G. Vijayaraghavan, honorary director of CADRRE, says the primary intention was to help viewers understand what was autism and how it manifests in different ways. “We felt the celebrities would catch eyeballs and since the messages were crisp, most people would listen to it before they moved on,” he says.
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Last year, CADRRE had done a similar series with parents of those on the autism spectrum, which struck a chord with viewers. “The fact is that unless we know an autistic person, most people tend to see all disabilities as the same without making an effort to understand that each person on the spectrum is different, with different skill sets and challenges,” says Radhika SB, Executive Communications.
Each celebrity has spoken about myriad aspects of autism; all of them assert why it is important to work towards an inclusive society where people with different needs are given space to evolve.
“We wanted to amplify the message of inclusivity. Since the messages are brief and to the point, we could win lots of viewers. Getting the celebrities to participate was not all that difficult. Many of them resonded positively when we reached out to them,” she says.
The CADRRE team sent notes and some information on autism to the participants, who then chose what they wanted to convey from that and delivered the message in their own words.
“They (celebrities) shot the videos themselves and sent them to us. The duration of the messages ranges from 45 seconds to three minutes. We feel that that the videos have clicked with the viewers,” says Vijayaraghavan.
The 28 vidoes, uploaded from April 2, observed as World Autism Day, continued till April 30.
Parents and students of CADRRE hope that the messages for empathy and level playing fields resonate in society.