Georgetown, Guyana – (April 2, 2016) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, today, joined the Step by Step Foundation and Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited, in their annual ‘Light it up Blue’ Autism Awareness Walk. The Foundation also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education to improve access and delivery of education for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The First Lady, in her remarks at the event, praised the collaboration between Republic Bank and the Step by Step Foundation and called on Guyanese to be more compassionate towards those directly affected by ASD. “I hope that as we continue to make the citizens of Guyana more aware of this disorder, public and private sector entities and individuals will be more willing to support the persons and their families, who are impacted by it. I hope, too, that we will become more caring and compassionate towards our brothers and sisters affected by this disorder at whatever state of the spectrum it may occur,” Mrs. Granger said.

Treasurer, of the Step by Step Foundation, which was formed in 2001, Ms. Kiran Mattai said that the organisation has received tremendous support from the sponsors to execute the plans they have for the construction of a school special school for children with ASD. “Today’s event is a continued indication of a larger vision for our children. The funds raised from our walk today through the sales of t-shirts and kind contributions will be directed towards the construction of a new school for Step by Step,” Ms. Mattai said.

In addition, the Foundation and the Ministry of Education will be embarking on a training exercise under which the teachers in the public school system will be assigned to the Foundation to learn how to better manage children with ASD.

Managing Director of Republic Bank, Mr. Richard Sammy said that through the Bank’s partnership effort with the Step by Step foundation, a significant investment has been made in ensuring that awareness is raised for the support of those affected by ASD. “We remain immensely grateful for all of our partners. As we reflect and look ahead it is our hope that having gotten to our feet with ‘Light it up Blue’, this would be an inspiration, and for many, the impetus to act. Certainly I would like to reaffirm Republic Bank’s commitment to raising and growing autism awareness in Guyana,” Mr. Sammy said.

The event was also attended by Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams and representatives from that Ministry, the Step by Step Foundation, Republic Bank, representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Health and others. Participants were entertained by steel pan music from the National School of Music and they were led through a zumba exercise session, following the walk by well-known dancer, Mr. Kijana Lewis.

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