As the world marks Autism Awareness Day, Guaranty Trust Bank is calling on members of the public to speak up against the stigmatisation of people living with Autism and other developmental disorders. The Bank, which runs an initiative to support children and adults living with Autism, is also urging well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to support people with special needs with the education and job opportunities that they need to lead fulfilling lives. (To learn more about Autism, visit csr.gtbank.com/autism.)
Every year, thousands of children in Nigeria are born with Autism and other developmental disorders that affect their abilities to learn and build social skills. Most of these children do not get the adequate medical, social and academic support that they require, and when they grow up, they are often faced with little or no employment or vocational opportunities to build their own lives. Children and Adults with Autism, together with their families, also have to deal with stigma that further drives them into the shadows and to seek desperate measures that often have harmful consequences.
Enter Guaranty Trust Bank. The leading financial institution has, for the past ten years, been at the forefront of rallying support for children and adults with Autism, and campaigning against the stigma that they face. The Bank’s Orange Ribbon Initiative, which was created in 2009, is an advocacy program which brings together globally renowned medical specialists, parents, caregivers, health practitioners and the academia to share ideas on how to support children and adults living with Autism.
The Orange Ribbon Initiative also provides free one-on-one consultations for children with Autism and other developmental challenges, free counselling for their parents and guardians and free sessions for Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behaviour Analysis, Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy. Through the activities of the Initiative, most of which take place every July, the Bank has offered more than 15,000 people training on how to manage ASD and directly supported over 3,500 children living with Autism, and their parents.
Commenting on the Autism Awareness Day, Mr Segun Agbaje, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “People living with Autism have their own dreams, aspirations and God-given potential, just like any of us; they just require a little more support to lead fulfilling lives. As a Bank committed to enriching lives, we strongly believe that reaching out and supporting these children and adults who are often the most vulnerable in our society, is how we truly demonstrate our shared humanity.”
He further stated that; “At Guaranty Trust Bank, we will continue to Be a Voice for people living with Autism by constantly investing in initiatives that help them lead better lives, and by partnering with like minds at home and around the world who share in our belief in a world full of support and attention, and free from stigma and prejudice, against people with special needs.”
Guaranty Trust Bank plc, through its clearly defined Corporate Social Responsibility, champions education for all, empowers under-served people and communities, expands access to healthcare, promotes African Art and advocates for environmental protection. The Bank undertakes hundreds of community development projects every year across Nigeria and beyond to expand opportunities for individuals and families in the communities wherein it operates.