Team Aspie’s autism awareness gala at Cookstown’s Burnavon gave audience members a full sensory experience as well as an insight into the multifaceted spectrum that is autism.
The ‘spectacular display’ was commended by Mid Ulster chair Linda Dillon as “community spirit at its best”, while First Minister, Arlene Foster, said in a prerecorded video message: “During this autism awareness month it is very fitting that you should be having this event and educating the community.”
Both women promised to visit the group for 13-18-year-olds with Asperger’s Syndrome at the Hub very soon.
The event, which packed out the Cookstown theatre, was said to have had the audience toe tapping, hand clapping, tissue grabbing and belly laughing at the on-stage antics.
Compered by Malachi Cush and directed by local singer, actor and drama teacher, Patrick Corey, Team Aspie were joined on stage by a number of acts including The Emerald Garrison, Releasing Rhythms, Ryan McGarrity and Holy Trinity Primary School’s traditional group and senior choir.
Event co-ordinator, and Team Aspie vice chair, Lorraine Heatherington said they were delighted with the support of so many local talents who said they were honoured to be involved.
“They gave so freely of their time,” she explained, “and worked so hard with members of Team Aspie on stage performances, sound and lighting effects, photography and costume design. Their commitment was overwhelming.”
As to the impact of the event on Team Aspie, she said: “Our members have been exposed to invaluable experiences. The atmosphere was electric and there was a great buzz.”
One parent added: “It was an emotional night for many parents and families. I personally found it inspiring. These kids overcome hurdles everyday and this was a fabulous opportunity to shine, shine, shine.”
Pictures on Pages 34-35