Accepting Autism: The Harley Davidson Way
Around thirty Harley Davidson owners in Chennai spent their Saturday meaningfully, embarking on a bike ride spreading awareness on Autism across the city, commemorating the World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day.
Sporting T shirts and carrying banners with messages on accepting people with Autism, the bikers, all part of the Marina Chapter of the Harley Davidson Owners Group stopped at The CanBridge Academy, a centre where adult learners with Autism get a chance to nurture their strengths.
Students of this centre and from two other NGOs – The Lotus Foundation and Swabodhini Charitable Trust who had gathered at CanBridge interacted with them and demonstrated their talents in art, music, textile, computers and cooking among others. “The Movement Corner” soon became a super hit as visitors and teachers joined them to shake a leg for a popular number.
The bikers also took the learners for a ride, bringing them so much of joy. Daisy Joel, a biker told tellmystory.in “We should love them, understand them. They are also talented and loving. They need our love. We should accept them as our family.”
“We have to accept all autistic children and adults. We have to spread love” said Aniqua Aslam, a rider’s daughter.
The Harley Owners Group (HOGs) comprising professionals and entrepreneurs undertake a ride for a social cause every quarter, besides their scheduled fun rides. “We would also fulfil specific requirements of these three centres” said Mr Balasubramanian, Director Marina HOG.
Parents are happy. “It was a pleasant surprise to see how seamlessly the trainees and the bikers group got down to connecting & interacting with each other. As parents we are always looking for ways to include our children in various communities that will accept and understand them. The event was almost like a ‘reverse inclusion’ where the larger community came into our young adults’ safe space and there was immediate & mutual warmth and camaraderie” said Beena Prithviraj, a mother.
One among every hundred people is believed to be autistic according to estimates. “It was a very high energy and wonderful event. The most heartening and gratifying part of the whole event was the fact that the entire initiative was from the community. Someone from the larger community taking the initiative to come forward to come and say we want to engage with the autistic community. That was really special” says Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, Co-Director, The CanBridge Academy.
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