Entertainment

Making the link for autism

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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JUST when it seemed the Maia Chung Autism and Disabilities Foundation (MCADF) would have to close its doors, help came in the form of New York businessman and philanthropist David 'Squeeze' Annakie.

Annakie, CEO of the LinkUp Media Group, hosted Oasis in the Sun — an event held at his Greenwich, Connecticut residence on Sunday to aid Chung's struggling organisation.

It was the second such gesture by Annakie. A grateful Chung is happy for the support.

"It was even more successful than the last one. I don't have a complete figure yet, but by all reports it should be good."

The first fund-raiser netted J$1 million.

Annakie's companies include the monthly Jamrock magazine and LinkUp radio and television, which cover the entertainment scene.

The MCADF is a non-profit organisation which assists children and adults suffering from autism and various disabilities across Jamaica. It helps to source funding for equipment, therapy, parental counselling and diagnostic services.

Chung, the mother of an autistic child, started the MCADF in April 2008. She says it is challenging to raise funds given its NGO status.

"We cannot legally earn, so (it takes) constant donations, human resources, skills and money to do the work that the Government is not investing where it needs to be," she said.

Chung hopes that there will be a fully-equipped and staffed facility for autistic persons in Jamaica by next year.

Autism is a disorder which affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. The Ministry of Health estimates that there are about 500 children born with autism each year in Jamaica.

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