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A closer look at Ninsun Project, a charity supported by the ÏDKIDS foundation

Find out more about the series of educational videos designed to help integrate children with autism into school: “Children with Autism, Welcome to School”. Thanks to its mini-donation campaign, the ÏDKIDS foundation was able to sponsor two of these programmes.

This series is an awareness-raising and training tool to promote inclusion for children with autism at preschool and primary school. It was produced by Ninsun Project, a charity that brings together professionals, parents of children with autism, artists and individuals who care about overcoming popular misconceptions and stereotypes about people with disabilities, particularly children with autism.

Intended for anyone involved in educating children with autism or disabilities, this positive educational programme shows that it doesn’t have to be complicated, providing useful information with a focus on best practice. Teachers and educational experts address their peers to give clear answers to their questions. It is supported and sponsored by the French Education Ministry and the Office for People with Disabilities.

“Children with Autism, Welcome to School” shows that differentiated instruction and special needs education can benefit all pupils by enriching the classroom environment. Inclusion benefits everyone!

Watch the video

The positive values conveyed by this project are in line with the ÏDKIDS foundation’s mission to act in the interest of vulnerable children around the world. To get ÏDKIDS community employees and the brands’ customers involved, it offered to run two mini-donation campaigns at Okaïdi and ÏDKIDS stores in France to raise money for the Ninsun Project. The idea behind this community initiative is giving a little to make a big difference. Customers are asked to round up their total spend to the nearest euro to support charities that help educate vulnerable children. Our customers’ generosity enabled us to help finance these two films:

The films can be streamed free of charge on the “Children with Autism, Welcome to School” website.

  • Sophie Robert, Ninsun Project CEO

“I’m a director and producer and the CEO of the charity. I set up Ninsun Project to make accessible films for the general public showing how scientific advances (in neuroscience and cognitive science, for example) can support people with autism in a positive way. One child in every hundred is affected by autism, and one in fifty suffers from a neurodevelopmental disorder (developmental difficulties that lead to personal, social, learning or professional impairment).

All of these children face challenges accessing appropriate schooling. Only about 20-25% of them attend school and most of them have trouble adjusting there. France is behind its European neighbours in providing an inclusive education for these children. That’s why we need to act! I’m interested in all aspects of autism, but I wanted to start with education as it’s the first barrier to overcome.

Often children with autism are excluded from school, which makes it even more difficult for them to communicate. If you can understand what’s going on in their head and use appropriate communication tools (pictograms or sign language, for example), you can maximize outcomes and solve a lot of problems. In addition, differentiated instruction tools (tailoring instruction to meet different needs) are more educational, more fun and offer benefits to all children.

One teacher confided in me that these methods helped her be a better teacher to all her pupils. Inclusion works both ways! Our vision is to offer innovations that benefit society as a whole – education in its broadest sense. ‘Children with Autism, Welcome to School’ was launched in 2015. Shortly before that I made a film called ‘Autism and ABA, Something More’ which shows how children with autism can learn to communicate through play and positive relationships. It was promoted under the auspices of the government department in charge of disability. Around a hundred screenings were organized in France.

I had the opportunity to meet teachers who were dealing with many questions about the inclusion of children with autism. I then had the idea of contributing to our national education resources by filming disability professionals and teachers using inclusive methods to encourage their peers to embrace differentiated instruction in their schools. My hope is that this educational series will be widely disseminated through as many channels as possible. Mini-donations from the ÏDKIDS foundation were used to help finance two of these films and will also contribute to the next two!

What sort of reception have these films received? At the screenings teachers pay close attention to the figures and take notes. Two years ago, a teacher came up to me after a screening and said, ‘I’ve just understood the difficulties some of my pupils are facing. I’ve been teaching for 27 years and now I know how to help them. I’m happy to be able to do so but shocked that I wasn’t able to do so sooner.’

Now one of my objectives is to get these films to be part of formal teacher training nationwide.

My next project is the fourth instalment in the series called ‘What is Autism?’ A preview will be screened at the International Autism Fair on 6 and 7 April.

My message to teachers is that they mustn’t be afraid. They can be excellent teachers for all their pupils, including those affected by autism. And they should watch the films – they’re designed to help them! Of course they don’t replace training, but they are an excellent starting point.”

  • Isabelle Anton, ÏDKIDS CSR manager and sponsor of Ninsun Project

“I wanted to support the foundation in its worthwhile cause to fight against the things that make children vulnerable all over the world. It’s important to me that my professional and personal lives reflect the same values. I chose Ninsun Project because of my first-hand experience with autism. A carer at my son’s preschool quickly recognized that one of his playmates was behaving differently. The child’s parents were finding it difficult to accept that there was a problem and talk about it. The carer felt helpless faced with a baby who was refusing contact and my son was sad that he couldn’t play with his little friend. This situation helped me realize that autism can be overlooked, painful to accept and difficult to manage. The charity helps by offering solutions. It’s a courageous approach as it lifts the veil on a subject that is difficult to bring up. But we have to face up to these vulnerabilities to deal with them. When she made ‘Children with Autism, Welcome to School’, Sophie Robert very quickly brought together education and autism professionals to make this project a success. Now she is working on a monthly television programme to show subjects like disability in a positive light. I brought Sophie’s project to the foundation’s attention because she has a great energy and manages to bring together an incredible number of qualified people, including government officials.”

Other ÏDKIDS foundation initiatives to help children with autism

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