World Autism Awareness Day takes place on Saturday 2 April, and the UEFA Foundation for Children is lending its support as part of a long-term project aimed at helping to improve the lives of autistic children and their families and giving them hope for the future.
As part of its activities on behalf of children across the world, the UEFA foundation allocated its annual support grant for 2015 to a project designed to improve communication and education for autistic children in Europe. The innovative project is being coordinated by the International Foundation of Applied Disability Research (FIRAH).
The slogan for the project comes from Mahatma Ghandi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” To this end, FIRAH has entered into partnerships with international and national associations for autistic children and their families, as well as educational, social and medical services. All of these partners have regular contact with autistic children to help bring happiness into their daily lives.
The FIRAH project is called Autism and New Technologies, and is being implemented for a four-year period in six European countries – Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Partners include around 30 institutions using new technologies for autistic children aged between 2 and 18, in addition to university partners and associations in the six countries.
Three pillars underpin the project:
- Facilitating access to the latest educational material and equipment such as robots and tablets, adapted to the specific needs of autistic children and their families.
- Training families and professionals working with autistic children so that they can help autistic children make use of new technology, with online guides and training available to families and professionals.
- Developing applied research projects to assess the impact of new technology (robots, tablets, etc.) on the everyday lives of autistic children in order to improve the equipment and apps available. All such research projects will involve the children, their parents and professionals to deliver concrete results based on the needs and expectations of autistic children and their families.
The children, their parents and professionals will be involved in evaluating the results of the Autism and New Technologies project.
“The UEFA Foundation for Children is delighted to give its backing to this project of considerable importance,” said the chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, former European Commission president José Manuel Barroso. “Autism represents a great challenge for modern society, and I have no doubt that the deployment of new technologies in this area will bring significant results not only for FIRAH and its partners in their pioneering work, but also for autistic children and their families.
“The Autism and New Technologies project promises to be a resounding success, and the UEFA foundation is happy that football, as a powerful social force, can support these activities in accordance with its key mission to help improve children’s lives.”