World Autism Awareness Day Reception
To kick-off the eve of Autism Awareness Month and celebrate World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), Autism Speaks hosted a reception on March 31, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. Over 150 individuals representing more than 12 countries attended the reception to celebrate the third annual United Nations sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day, which takes place April 2 every year.
CNBC’s Sue Herera served as the emcee and opened the presentation by introducing Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright who spoke of the many accomplishments that have been made since the inception of Autism Speaks in 2005.
One of the big announcements of the evening was made by Shekhar Saxena, M.D., Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Dr. Saxena announced a new collaboration that the WHO is undertaking with Autism Speaks in the area of child mental health including developmental disorders such as autism. “Our focus in this collaboration will be to assist low and middle income countries to enhance their capacity to help families and communities affected by these conditions,” said Dr. Saxena. This is our first step; there is a long way to go. We can make a difference in the lives of many people. Together, we can do it better.”
The exciting WHO announcement was followed by a PSA especially taped for WAAD by United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon and a special tribute presentation to Yoko Ono Lennon. Ms. Ono accepted the designation as Autism Speaks’ first Global Autism Ambassador, and was presented with a plaque by Suzanne and Bob Wright. Ono became involved in autism last year during World Autism Awareness Day. She unveiled an original piece of artwork entitled “Promise” that she created for the day and auctioned it off, raising thousands of dollars for Autism Speaks.
Ono graciously accepted the honor and cited her artwork. “As an artist the concept of distance means nothing to me, you can bring the whole world together with a song, a painting or a single word and that is what I have tried to achieve with ‘Promise’ and I hope it has been able to make a difference,” said Ono.
View photos from this, and other, World Autism Awareness Day celebrations and events.