‘World's first autistic choir’ formed

From Volume 5 Number 4 (print and PDF editions)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia:  The creative advertising agency, Lowe & Partners, marked its 50th anniversary with a landmark initiative to showcase the immense potential of autistic children when given the opportunity to shine.

            The agency has created a seven-minute documentary and 3 TV commercials on the world’s first autistic children’s choir, founded by the charity, Kidzcare. The 25-member choir, comprising children with autism aged between seven and 12, was the result of a collaboration between Kidzcare - in its maiden project in Malaysia - and the National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom).

            “The choir demonstrated that people with learning disabilities are gifted and it is a matter of giving them opportunities to realise their full potential,” said the Kidzcare Foundation’s founder, Mike Plascow.”

            Detailing its programme, Lowe & Partners managing director Khairudin Rahim told the Malaysian marketing magazine, ADOI: “When we started making plans for our 50th anniversary, our team was adamant that we should do something for Malaysia ... It is only right that we do something that taps into what we do best – strategic and creative solutions that build brands.

            “Kidzcare had actually come to us to get some music production work done, but when we heard about what they had done in creating the world’s first autistic children’s choir, right here in Malaysia, and why they did it, we knew that this was a story that deserved to be told to all Malaysians. It was the perfect opportunity for us to do something meaningful and different, and bring real value to a great cause.”

            Kidzcare, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, was started in 2010 by a group of individuals interested in helping children in need, and a desire to make Malaysia known as a caring country for kids. They recognised that there were inadequate facilities for children with disabilities in Malaysia and that they could make a positive difference to the lives of Malaysian children who have some form of disability.

             Kidzcare’s project to create the world’s first autistic children’s choir was ambitious, given that children with autism often cannot sit still, may have speech problems and can find it difficult to concentrate.

            The composer and lyricist, Brian John Yim, volunteered to write a song for the children, “Show me the Way,” and to coach and guide the choir. A total of 48 autistic children auditioned in December 2009 and of these, 25 were selected.

            On June 28, 2010 the choir performed at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, Kuala Lumpur, before a packed audience, with the Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, as guest of honour. The performance left many of the audience in tears.

             To increase awareness of autism in Malaysia, Kidzcare’s Plascow and his team are already planning a year-end street party. Also in the pipeline is the launch of a comprehensive, nationwide online directory which will enable parents and caregivers to identify specialist doctors, schools and centres that provide services to people with autism.

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