Fun-filled festival to create autism awareness

Unique initiative by Dubai-based couple with autistic son seeks to raise funds for autism research

  • Autism Rocks Fest will be hosted by Usha and Sanjay Shah with Nikhil and two other childrenImage Credit: Supplied
  • Rapper Flo RidaImage Credit: Supplied
  • Rapper TygaImage Credit: Supplied
XPRESS

DUBAI Autism Awareness Month begins on April 2, so if you’re wondering how you can do your bit, here’s one option. For just Dh50 per head you can attend a fun-filled Autism Rocks Festival with your family on April 1, watch American rappers Flo Rida and Tyga perform live, and raise awareness about autism -- and donations for research into the special needs condition.

Making a difference

The brainchild of Dubai-based couple Usha and Sanjay Shah, Autism Rocks is out to change the way those with autism are perceived and dealt with in society. As Usha tells XPRESS, the need to make a difference arose out of a personal commitment.

“My husband and I have an autistic son (Nikhil) and we wanted to do something for those like him. While there was a lot of support for special needs people, we felt the need to provide greater exposure for such children. We wanted to encourage more research into why people are afflicted with these conditions and what can be done about it. So we came up with the idea of Autism Rocks.”

A live concert and charity, Autism Rocks was founded in 2014 and has raised over £600,000 by organising popular concerts by the likes of Prince, Lenny Kravitz, Michael Bublè and Drake in London and Dubai. Usha said this year they chose to rope in Flo Rida and Tyga because they had a young vibe and could help get the message across to the youth with whom they easily relate. The official DJs are BFG and Fever.

She said the family event will feature besides live music, fun events like laser tag, crazy golf, zip line, bouncy castle, horse rides, rodeo bull, face painting, inflatable rides, barbecue and a petting zoo. The event is being held in partnership with 117 Live, a subsidiary of Al Ahli Holding.

 

What is autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects how a person communicates with others and how they experience the world around them. While its causes remain unknown and it is incurable, lack of support can have far-reaching effects on individuals and families. Although it is not clear how many autistic people live in the UAE, the number of cases is increasing worldwide every year. In the UK, it is said to affect one in 100 people, touching the lives of 2.8 million every day.

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