I recently met with James Yang, assistant marketing manager at Hilton Beijing Capital Airport to discuss the work that the hotel does to support Beijing Stars and Rain, China’s first non-governmental educational organization dedicated to serving children with autism.
Founded in 1993, the organization based in the south of Beijing has helped over 6,000 autistic children and their families through a unique parent-training course, which gives parents the skills necessary to educate and support their own children. The name "Stars and Rain" comes from the American movie Rainman, which raised public awareness of autism, and the nickname “Children of Stars,” which Taiwanese people fondly call their autistic children.
There are two different streams within Stars and Rain: helping preschool children and their parents, and providing residential care and education via a group home.
The preschool serves children aged 3-12 and focuses on educating the parents in the skills and techniques required to ensure their own child’s development. They offer four courses of three months annually, and around 50 families from across China attend each course. The group home has been running since November 2006 and accommodates six teenagers with autism and related disabilities.
As part of the Hilton brand’s commitment to “community,” the hotel supports Stars and Rain in a number of ways. Last year, the organization opened a new campus; James Yang rallied a team of Hilton staff – including co-workers, the head chef, and the GM – to help paint the new buildings.
For April, there is an art exhibition in the hotel foyer, where paintings done by Stars and Rain students can be viewed and purchased. April 2 marked World Autism Awareness Day, an opportunity for the hotel to help raise awareness of autism and of the work of Stars and Rain.
So what’s next? The school is looking to build a function room for their students at the new campus, so Yang and his team will raise funds for the project through a sport event this summer.
I asked Yang why Stars and Rain is such an important organization to support. He says that the amount of support available in China to children with autism is limited and hopes that the success of Stars and Rain may begin to be replicated across China. Yang also identifies with the organization’s mission:
To help people with autism reach their full potential, improve their quality of life, and enjoy equal opportunities. We strive to be a bridge between society and children with autism.
To find out more about Stars and Rain or how you can help, contact email@example.com or call 8537 3236.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photo courtesy of Hilton Beijing Capital Airport