Newly announced Patron of Autonomie Oliver Jeffers has created a new superhero illustration for the local charity.
The multi-million-selling author and illustrator created the superhero illustration in a bid to raise awareness of disability in young people as well as challenge perceptions of young people with disabilities.
The illustration which depicts a superhero boy and a wheelchair even includes the charity's name in his trademark handwritten script.
Speaking about his creation Oliver Jeffers said: “The aim of this superhero illustration is simple: to challenge outdated perceptions of what it means to live life with a disability.
“My mum had MS and my dad worked for 27 years in a school for kids with disabilities so you could say I have grown up with a disability.
“No-one would dispute that children and young people with a disability should live the life they choose. However, growing up, I spent many holidays around people living with different disabilities, so I know first-hand people face isolation, social exclusion, discrimination and a lack of opportunity in the workplace.
"Autonomie empowers young people so that they can break down these barriers that they should not have to deal with and if my illustration helps I am pleased.”
Trevor Boyle, Voluntary Co-ordinator at Autonomie said everyone at Autonomie has been bowled over by Oliver’s illustration.
He said: "We are all in awe of Oliver’s incredible illustration and everyone is overwhelmed by Oliver’s generosity.
"Oliver's illustration wonderfully challenges perceptions of disability in children and young people.
"Autonomie is about recognising the lives of children and young adults we support but is also to appeal to policy-makers and the wider public to ensure we all play our role in creating an inclusive society.
“Autonomie strive to ensure children and young people as well as their families are informed to make the right choices and are empowered to live the life they choose.
“This powerful superhero illustration by our very talented new Patron Oliver Jeffers will hang proud of place at our centre for all to see.”
Oliver Jeffers has carved out a hugely successful career as both a writer and illustrator of award-winning picture books that have sold more than seven million copies worldwide, including his 2004 debut How to Catch a Start and the wonderfully titled The Day the Crayons Quit, all annotated with his trademark, handwritten script.
The announcement of Jeffers involved with Autonomie comes as the final push gets underway to win £50,000 funding in The People’s Projects needed to open new centre LILAC House. Autonomie is calling on local people across Northern Ireland to support them in their bid to win £50,000 to develop a purpose-designed centre, after it was announced they were on the shortlist for funds as part of the Big Lottery Fund’s ‘People’s Projects’ awards.
If successful, LILAC House would deliver programmes on building self-confidence, life skills, networking to build friendships and even a chance to try independent living at purpose-designed units on the premises.
Speaking recently about the shortlist in the ‘People’s Projects’ awards Mr Boyle said: “In order to provide the best possible support for local families we need to develop LILAC House.
“From Belfast LILAC House short for Linked Independent Living and Advice Centre will provide support to children and young people with different disabilities, their families, carers, schools right across Northern Ireland.
“We want to increase the range of services and education provision for children and young people with additional needs and this funding would mean we are able to develop LILAC House and increase our capacity and number of support programmes that we offer. It would mean so much to so many families.
“It would be absolutely fantastic if people of Northern Ireland vote for us.”
During past seven years Autonomie has helped over 275 young people throughout Northern Ireland successfully integrate into mainstream education.
The local charity is encouraging its supporters from across the country to vote for Autonomie’s LILAC House project at www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk before voting closes Sunday 13 March at 12noon.
Alternatively, supporters can vote by Freepost. Mark the envelope ‘FREEPOST THE PEOPLE’S PROJECTS’. To be counted, the following details must be clearly written on the postcard: ‘LILAC House’ your name, address and telephone number. For postal votes to be counted send by Thursday 10 March.
For more information on the full range of services offered by Autonomie visit www.autonomie.org.uk