Special needs centre presents play at hospital to build autism awareness

(From left) Ong, Hui Ying’s representative Por Cheng Han, Koo, Loh, Chia Chia, Gooi, Penang social development, welfare and non-Islamic affairs committee chairman Lim Siew Khim, Ding Qiao and Ooi.

A glimpse into a mother’s struggles and triumphs in raising her autistic son touched the hearts of audiences at the play Ocean of Star, performed at Gleneagles Hospital Penang in George Town, Penang.

Co-organised and sponsored by the hospital, the play was presented by Penang Shine Like Stars Association (PLSA) – a centre for children with special needs.

Held in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month, the production aimed to raise public awareness and understanding of autism as well as create compassion for those living with autism.

Directed by Penangite actor Lim Chia Chia and JL7 studio, Ocean of Star was written to present a poignant monodrama delving into the journey of acceptance, struggle and resilience faced by families with children with autism.

“We want to showcase the real challenges experienced by many special needs families who often struggle in silence,” said PLSA chairman Kathrine Koo.

“Through Ocean of Star, we hope to inspire empathy and acceptance of differences within our society,” she said.

As part of its annual Autism Acceptance Campaign, she expressed the centre’s gratitude for support from Carmen Ooi from Senses at Work, Angel Kwat from Clover Make-up Academy and Jason Ong from Triple I Production House.

PLSA also extended its appreciation to the hospital’s chief executive officer Ivan Loh who responded by explaining that healthcare providers have an important role of increasing awareness and fostering empathy towards people with autism, and their caregivers.

“Dramas such as Ocean of Star have the potential to be potent educational tools, motivating the public to foster a more inclusive community.

“By highlighting the trials and triumphs of autism families, these productions dismantle barriers and inspire individuals to play an active role in cultivating a more empathetic society.

“They go beyond mere entertainment, striving to create tangible impact in the lives of those impacted by autism and advocating for a more compassionate world,” said Loh.

The centre also expressed gratitude to Penang youth, sports and health committee chairman Daniel Gooi, Deputy Finance Minister and Tanjong MP Lim Hui Ying and People’s Republic of China in Penang deputy consul general Ding Qiao for their invaluable support and advocacy for the autism community.

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