Tote bag to raise aware­ness for autism

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - AMY BAKER

All they knew was that they wanted to start a con­ver­sa­tion to sup­port those ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stigma from health con­di­tions.

Six months later Caitlin Hancy and Kayla Turner, 16, are sport­ing the fruits of the first project for their busi­ness for so­cial change, AsOne NZ.

Their black tote bag which reads, ‘Same emo­tions, dif­fer­ent ex­pres­sions’ is in­tended as a start­ing point for con­ver­sa­tion around autism and how those with the con­di­tion ex­pe­ri­ence the world.

Kayla said autism was a dis­abil­ity that could be mis­per­ceived as it was not eas­ily seen.

‘‘They feel the same things as ev­ery­body else but, be­cause of autism, they can’t ex­press it,’’ Caitlin said.

Kayla said be­cause their mes­sage was sim­ple, they hoped it would in­spire peo­ple to un­der­stand more about the con­di­tion and have more em­pa­thy for those with autism.

For the project, the pair worked in part­ner­ship with Par­ent To Par­ent, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion to sup­port fam­i­lies with chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties. They also re­ceived sup­port from dig­i­tal agency Lit­tle Gi­ant.

Of the 150 bags printed, over half have al­ready sold, with the likes of for­mer Bach­e­lor Art Green and part­ner Matilda pho­tographed wear­ing the bag the for com­pany’s Face­book page.

Each bag comes with a tag ex­plain­ing more about autism and also about Par­ent To Par­ent. The Albany Se­nior High School stu­dents have been work­ing on the project as part of their school’s Im­pact Project pro­gramme.

A Par­ent To Par­ent spokesper­son said AsOne NZ is a ’’com­mend­able en­ter­prise’’.

‘‘Kayla and Caitlin have cre­ated a very cool bag with a sim­ple, quirky mes­sage to raise aware­ness of autism by pro­mot­ing ac­cep­tance and in­clu­sion,’’ they said.

About 90 per cent of re­quests made to Par­ent To Par­ent are con­cern­ing autism spec­trum dis­or­ders (ASD), es­ti­mated to af­fect around 65,000 Ki­wis.

Feed­back has been pos­i­tive, and the teens are even con­sid­er­ing a sec­ond print run.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple [are] say­ing they ap­pre­ci­ate us do­ing this be­cause there’s noth­ing out there at the mo­ment,’’ Caitlin said.

See Face­book page AsOne NZ for more or to pur­chase a bag. Bags are $12 each, and $2 from ev­ery bag sold goes to Par­ent To Par­ent.

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