Run for a good cause: Melanie hoping to raise funds for second association | 11 October 2019
Joel Melanie is a running enthusiast who earlier this year managed to raise a whopping R370,477.53 for Cancer Concern Association through his personal project Run for a Good Cause.
The Run for a Good Cause project, initiated by Mr Melanie last year, aims to support associations that are struggling for funds to establish infrastructure and other facilities to provide long term support to Seychellois families and children.
This time, Mr Melanie will be hitting the running track once again as he strives to complete the full 42.195 km marathon around Mahe in the Eco-friendly marathon to be held in February next year and raise sponsorship for Autism Seychelles towards their pictogram project.
Through sponsorships from individuals, companies and business organisations through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) scheme, Mr Melanie hopes to raise at least R200,000.
He noted that he has already commenced with the preparations and is regularly training for the big event, taking part in other marathon events and even reaching out to potential sponsors, who he says have all been positive towards the fundraising cause.
Proceeds from the project will be remitted to Autism Seychelles, an association which advocates for persons on the Autism spectrum as well as support for their families.
As part of the programme to be introduced by Autism Seychelles, children on the spectrum with limited language skills will have access to pictograms, which they can use to express their needs. A variety of equipment and materials are needed to set up the programme and such visual aids can also be used to help structure their different routines, detail the rules and regulations for different settings and places and as a method of teaching according to their individual needs.
Pictograms can also be helpful to children on the spectrum, equipping them with coping mechanisms to cope with their daily lives and routines by creating daily or weekly schedules, to show sequential steps in a task such as a bedtime routine or getting dressed, to demonstrate units of time, aid communication for those who are less or non-verbal and as visual supports to help with learning, retaining information, communication and information.
Local staff and parents with children on the spectrum will also need to be trained for on how to develop and implement the programme locally.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours speech and communication amongst others. It is a lifelong condition which affects individuals at varying degrees in their lives starting mainly from childhood and is one of the fastest growing developmental disorders affecting 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
On the local front, parents with children on the spectrum, have, since 2012, been joining together to form a support group Pearl Seychelles. In 2017, the name was changed to Autism Seychelles to better reflect the engagement of various stakeholders in their efforts to better help people on the Autism Spectrum and their families.
Since its existence, the association has done much campaigning to raise awareness and to lobby government in order to help the association achieve its vision for a specialist learning centre, more diagnostic services among others.
In April 2016 the association linked with other regional associations in the Indian Ocean to form the Pôle Autisme Océan Indien. This network consists of three associations namely, Autisme Réunion, Autisme Maurice and Autism Seychelles. Autism Seychelles hosted for the first time, the Indian Ocean Autism conference under the sponsorship of Josef Schovanec. Autisme Madagascar is expected to join the Pôle.
There are some 75 people diagnosed with autism in the country and as the numbers increase parents feel that it is imperative that the children on the spectrum get much needed support in order to a fruitful and enjoyable life. It is important to understand and fulfil their needs by means of education, social integration and health care.
Mr Melanie is 59 years old and has been taking part in the Eco-friendly marathon since 2009 when he ran the 5km race. From 2010 to 2016, Mr Melanie ran the 10km race and the half-marathon in 2017.
“In 2018 I was inspired to start the Joel59 Run Club dedicating my participation in the annual Eco-friendly Marathon race as a sponsored activity for a three-year period that would touch the lives of people in the community entitled Run for a Good Cause project. My ultimate goal and accomplishment is to have participated in all the four race category of the Eco-friendly marathon – 5km, 10km, half marathon (21km) and marathon (42.195km) – and bear testimony that physical exercise keeps one healthy and in good shape regardless of age,” said Mr Melanie.