Autism New Zealand has partnered with preschool property Thomas & Friends. Together with its Australian/New Zealand agent Haven Licensing, the charity is working with Thomas & Friends to help raise awareness about autism.
The move follows other, similar, partnerships the children's brand has formed with autism organizations around the world. Research studies conducted in both Australia and the U.K. have demonstrated that many children with autism have a particular love of Thomas & Friends, who is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Results from a survey of parents of children with autism, commissioned by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) mirror that of a similar survey conducted by the National Autistic Society (NAS) in the U.K. Findings for both studies revealed children with autism like Thomas & Friends more than any other children's program due to the characters' clear facial expressions, which make them easy to identify. Parents also reported that Thomas & Friends helped their children understand the feelings and emotions of others, which is an important step in assisting these children with developing social interaction skills and engaging with people around them.
To coincide with the start of the Autism NZ 2010 Conference held in Wellington on Sept. 10 to 12, Haven Licensing has produced Thomas & Friends bumper stickers to generate gold coin donations and raise much needed funds to support Autism NZ and the important work that they do in the community.