SHAH ALAM: Bank Rakyat’s year-long corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative focusing on autism and heightening its awareness ended with its inaugural Autismlympic Bank Rakyat 2017, which was held at Kompleks Sukan Negara Panasonic Shah Alam here yesterday.
The event saw the participation of 32 autism centres with close to 500 children, aged between 5 and 12, who contested in sporting activities such as Big Fish Story, Target Shoot, Run and Pick, as well as Building the Tower.
The concept of the games not only tested their sensory and physical endurance, but also functioned as therapy to stimulate their movements and emotions.
Bank Rakyat marketing and communication senior vice-president Nizam Sani said Autismlympic had brought together autism centres in the Klang Valley and fulfilled the organisation’s CSR aspiration as a hub for autism.
“With 480 children taking part, Bank Rakyat’s CSR programme on autism has reached its peak. We are happy with the response from the participants, teachers, and parents, as well as volunteers, who in total numbered 1,000.
“The games paved the way for participants to show off their talent and opened the eyes of society to the extraordinary abilities of these children.
“Bank Rakyat is committed to continue our CSR (initiative) next year. The Autismlympic will be held in Perlis and Malacca next year.
“This is our effort to raise awareness on autism and to achieve a wider community reach. We want to make Autismplympic an annual event.”
Among the autism centres that took part in the event were Permata Kurnia, National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nasom), Autism Association of Muslim Malaysia, Community Based Rehabilitation centres and special education schools.
Some 160 volunteers came from iM4U, as well as Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s occupational therapy team.
Nizam said this after the event’s closing ceremony.
Autismlympic received a boost with the presence of Rio Paralympics gold medallist and world record holder Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli.
Nizam said Bank Rakyat’s initiative to engage the autism community was kickstarted in December last year after it learnt that the awareness on the condition was poor.
That had prompted the bank to work with Nasom and related associations to increase its awareness.
Bank Rakyat, he added, embraced the cause by incorporating paintings by autistic children into its corporate calendars and annual report.
Efforts also included swimming, horse riding and cycling, as well as educational and fundraising activities.
Meanwhile, Ziyad praised Bank Rakyat’s efforts, saying Autismlympic served as a stepping stone for autistic children to discover their talent, especially in sports.
“This is an avenue for parents to encourage their children to
get involved in sports,” Ziyad said.