A GROUP of young autistic people from the North-East are appealing for support to help win a national film award.

The Autism Activists Group, run by the North East Autism Society (NEAS), has been nominated for a Smiley Charity Film Award for an animated video they helped to make.

With the deadline approaching early in the new year, the group is appealing for supporters to vote for the film, called Let Me Be Me, which is in the running for the Good Health and Wellbeing category.

Family Development Manager Kerrie Highcock, who helps run the Autism Activists, said: 

I’m incredibly proud of these young people for the way they have contributed to the making of the film, and for helping to give young autistic people a stronger voice. It’s an outstanding piece of work.

The Autism Activists were formed in 2018 to provide a forum for children and young people to meet, learn more about themselves and each other, and get their voices heard using creative methods.

The film project was launched in October this year after NEAS chief executive, John Phillipson, challenged the group to produce a film about human rights, focusing on dignity, equality and respect.

Over two sessions in Stanley, County Durham, a group of nine to 18-year-olds, worked alongside professional animator, Graeme Patterson, to come up with ideas and imagery around the human rights theme.

The film was produced as part of the charity’s Everyday Equality campaign, which addresses the obstacles autistic people face in their daily lives, and what organisations should do to ensure equal access.

Group member Edward Armstrong, 18, said:

I’m really passionate about human rights, and the voices of young autistic people being heard, so I was proud to be part of making the film because it will help raise awareness.

Another young member of the group, called Lucie, added: “The film is about recognising that autistic and neurodiverse people have unique talents, so they may need to be accommodated in different ways in order to succeed.

It was nice to be working alongside people of different ages, with a variety of different views and messages.

The film has generated positive feedback after being shown to NEAS staff, and used across the charity’s social media channels.

Voting for the Smiley Charity Film Awards closes on January 12 before the finalists are announced. The winners will be decided after a second round of voting, with the awards ceremony taking place at London’s Leicester Square in March.

Watch the video and vote here