A pupil from Castlebay School has produced the winning design in a poster competition designed to raise awareness about autism in the islands.

John Francis O'Carroll - seen above - won a £50 voucher and his school won a £100 book token for a poster design that the judge, NHS Western Isles Speech and Language Therapist Catherine Byrne, said ‘gave very positive messages, had a striking design, was very visual and had ‘the world needs all kind of minds’ as its unique and original slogan’.

Castlebay school was one of seven Western Isles schools to encourage children to produce posters for a competition run by Autism Eileanan Siar as part of world autism awareness month. The children were tasked with helping to raise public awareness of autism and the charity’s committee short-listed the entries before the final judging.

The standard of entries was so high that Autism Eileanan Siar decided to award extra prizes, with second and third prizes both in English and in Gaelic. In the Gaelic poster competition third prize of a £20 voucher was won by Rachael Sinclair of Castlebay.

John’s winning design has been printed and will be displayed in public places to help spread a message of inclusion for world autism awareness month. A spokesperson for Autism Eileanan Siar said: “Thank you to all the schools that took part in this competition. Well done to all winners and a big thank you to everyone who entered, we were amazed by all the different ideas and designs! 

“April 2ndis world autism awareness day and we especially wanted to educate children as part of our activities, because many of their peers may have autism. In fact, a lot of kids seem to understand it better than adults because of their direct experience of schoolfriends.

“Autism is not a disease, but a life-long condition which affects the way a person sees, feels and hears the world around them. It affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people.  Autism not a disease but a spectrum condition, which means that, whilst all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. There are those who need very little support and some who need a life time of specialist support.”

“Autistic people look just like everyone else, they just think differently from the norm. But it's OK to be different and as the winning poster states “the world needs all kinds of minds!”


The picture shows Castlebay schoolchildren with their poster designs.