They draw paintings at competition arranged by Cosmos Foundation at SWAC

A group of children with autism in the city had a fun-filled Baishakhi celebration on April 12, just two days ahead of the advent of Bangla New Year - 1425.

This bunch of specially abled children of different age groups drew fascinating artworks depicting Bangla Nobobarsha as theme.

Society for the Welfare of Autistic Children (SWAC), a premier organisation with a long track record of providing care to children with special needs, joined hand with news agency United News of Bangladesh, Cosmos Foundation and Gallery Cosmos in arranging the art competition for the children with autism. The event was held on the SWAC premises in the city as part of the Bangla New Year celebrations.

Adil Haque, a SWAC student, has proved that nothing can appear as a barrier to life if there is a strong will-- at least his painting speaks of it.

"The painting of Adil represents the nature, landscape and rural life together. His painting is really an outstanding piece of artwork," said prominent artist Bishwajit Goswami while giving away prizes among the winners of the painting competition.

Adil won the first prize in the competition participated by 29 SWAC children. Arjit Chakma Prithu won the second prize while Irfanur Rahman got the third prize.

The theme of Prithu's painting was innovation while Irfanur Rahman colourfully depicted Baishakh in his painting.

Bishwajit Goswami said Adil's treatment of painting and combination of colour are not less than that of a fine art student. "Even his skill in some areas of painting is much better than that of the fine art students," he said.

He also said although Adil is a child with special needs, he could visualise the village life colourfully and reflect it in this artwork which conceptualises the identity of simple village life.

The boy received an international award for his paintings while he had four solo exhibitions of his extraordinary artworks in the capital.

Mentioning that he himself is inspired by the artworks of the children with autism, Bishwajit Goswami said fine art students can also get inspiration from them. "The extracurricular activities such as painting, singing and dancing will help them reach the peak of success. So, they have to continue it for their betterment," the artist said.

UNB Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad said, "Each of us holds some qualities which we can share with the family, country and the world. The prize-winning paintings give us an idea of the paintings of the participants. The quality of their paintings is not less than that of any other prominent artists."

He also said, "Had we seen the world through the eyes of children, we could have avoided terrorism and violence easily. At any cost, we should try to build such an environment which will be a role model for not only Bangladesh but also for the globe. Each and everybody should make their world colourful with whatever qualities he or she has. The future world will be ours."

SWAC Chairperson Subarna Chakma said it was never easy to carry on the struggle as initially, people, parents and even many doctors had not much knowledge about this form of disorder. "We're working to build a SWAC village to ensure a safe future for them," she added.

Citing the financial problem as one of the biggest challenges for them, she said there is no funding or financial support from the government. "So, the SWAC activities are mostly dependent on individual donations."

SWAC Secretary Sirajum Munira expressed the hope that like Cosmos Foundation, other orgnaisations will come up with such support to help run their school.

Its former secretary Sabina Hossain who got a national award for working for autism said it is not so easy to run such type of school as it needs huge fund. "Our main challenge is now to continue the activities involving huge cost."

A teacher of the school said an enjoyable environment attracted them to take part in the competition organised by the Cosmos Foundation.

Expressing his feelings, Tanvir, a student of the school, said, "I'm happy. There're many friends. We're playing."

The school started its journey on February 3, 2000 when a group of five mothers of children with autism founded it as there was no school for their children.

The school has a total of 115 students, including 100 with autism and 15 underprivileged children.

Besides, SWAC is running a small school called "Centre for Inspiration" for children with autism and other disabilities from the underprivileged section and indigenous community in Rangamati.

The main vision of SWAC is to build an autism-friendly world where all individuals with autism will have equal rights, participation and opportunities in every aspect of life with dignity they deserve.

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