In honour of this big year, this amazing boy and to celebrate his progress and never-ending improvement I’ve decided to launch an Autism awareness project through the blog.
The idea for the project took many forms over many many months. I needed ideas but nothing seemed to encompass everything I wanted it to; going round asking people was too intruding; doing a post about it was too small; asking organisations was too impersonal; and not doing anything was not an option. So, I started talking to my family about it and the response was what pushed me to actually make this real. It all came together in November, around the kitchen table with my family. 18 was the theme and with their help and support it didn’t take long to come up with 324. The next step was to find 18 countries; a whole morning scrolling through facebook and my contacts produced 25 countries in which I had some connection to; the four prominent ones are, of course, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, UK and Belgium. The rest was me reaching out to people and asking for help. The response was better than I had imagined and so it all began. I set myself a timeline; ask people in December/January; figure out the text in January; get the cards translated to different languages by mid February; start producing them in February and send them off end of February/start of March. This would mean that the distribution would happen over 2 months, which is enough time for cards to be delivered late and takes the pressure off the people handing them out. I knew that the last thing I wanted to do was be an imposition on the people who are so kindly helping me.
I am currently cutting up 324 cards – my thumbs ache and every sheet of paper is cut a bit differently than the last but I tell myself that it adds character. These 324 cards will be divided in 18 batches, made up of 18 cards each (get the theme yet?). The 18 cards will be sent to 18 countries around the world. So far we have: Cyprus, Greece, the UK, Belgium, Scotland, Wales, Dubai, Ireland, Ukraine, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Iraq, Germany, Kenya and Australia + a pre-project project in Spain. The languages are English, Greek, Turkish, French, Spanish, Ukrainian & German. We are completely overwhelmed by the willingness of all these amazing people to help.
So, the plan is that I will send the 18 cards to our 18 countries. They look like the pictures on the right.
Then, from the time the cards are received, which will be March, until the 30th of April the beautiful people helping us will be leaving these cards all over their cities, in places where they are likely to be picked up. This can include touristy areas, sticking them on bus stops, leaving them on seats on the bus/subway, on tables at cafes, at the library, bookshops etc. I wanted the cards to be left for, instead of given to, people, because I didn’t want my brother’s awareness project to be forced on people, it needed to strike the balance between grabbing attention but not being imposed on the people who come across them.
324’s purpose is to appeal to the humanity inside us all. It is discreet in nature but loud in purpose. It’s a project completely reliant on goodwill and benevolence. It leaves it up to the individual to choose whether to make the effort, to make the difference. If you were on your way to work and found a random card on the tube/bus, would you take the time to read it? And if you did take the time, would you follow up? How often do we see something, hear about something and think “Oh that’s a nice thing to do!” and then forget about it? How easy is it to get swept away in our daily routine and convince ourselves that we have no time to be kind?
324 is about a boy turning 18 years old, a boy i love, the boy who made me the person I am. No amount of cake or presents can ever be enough to celebrate 18 amazing years with the love of my life.
324 is about a boy turning 18 in a world where he is accepted, where he is embraced by his peers near and far, friends and strangers.
324 is about 324 attempts to get strangers to take a moment to read and learn about Autism.
324 is for Christo.
The vision is to get 1 reply. This isn’t about quantity, this is about changing perceptions and if we can change 1 then our work is more than worth it.
You can email JustABoyBlog@outlook.com
Four cards have already been left in Barcelona