Teens make tote to create conversation and awareness around autism

Albany Senior High School students Kayla Turner and Caitlin Hancy with their tote bag.
Amy Baker

Albany Senior High School students Kayla Turner and Caitlin Hancy with their tote bag.

All they knew was that they wanted to start a conversation to support those experiencing stigma from health conditions. 

Six months later Caitlin Hancy and Kayla Turner, 16, are sporting the fruits of the first project for their business for social change, AsOneNZ.

Their black tote bag which reads, 'Same emotions, different expressions' is intended as a starting point for conversation around autism and how those with the condition experience the world.

The bags have sold around New Zealand thanks to Parent To Parent and the teens' social media presence.
Amy Baker

The bags have sold around New Zealand thanks to Parent To Parent and the teens' social media presence.

Kayla said autism was a disability that could be misperceived as it was not easily seen. 

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"They feel the same things as everybody else but, because of autism, they can't express it," Caitlin said. 

Kayla said because their message was simple, they hoped it would inspire people to understand more about the condition and have more empathy for those with autism. 

For the project, the pair worked in partnership with Parent To Parent, a non-profit organisation to support families with children with disabilities. 

They also received support from digital agency Little Giant.

Of the 150 bags printed, over half have already sold, with the likes of former Bachelor Art Green and partner Matilda photographed wearing the bag for company's Facebook page.

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Each bag comes with a tag explaining more about autism and also about Parent To Parent. 

The Albany Senior High School students have been working on the project as part of their school's Impact Project programme.

Next year they hope to continue the business with a focus on women's rights. 

A Parent To Parent spokesperson said AsOne NZ is a "commendable enterprise".

"Kayla and Caitlin have created a very cool bag with a simple, quirky message to raise awareness of autism by promoting acceptance and inclusion," they said. 

About 90 per cent of requests made to Parent To Parent are concerning autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

ASD is estimated to affect around 65,000 Kiwis.

Feedback has been positive and the teens are even considering a second print run. 

"A lot of people [are] saying they appreciate us doing this because there's nothing out there at the moment," Caitlin said. 

See Facebook AsOne NZ for more or email to purchase a bag. 

Bags are $12 each with $2 from every bag sold goes to Parent To Parent. 

 - North Harbour News

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