Preschool property Thomas & Friends is taking its charitable work in raising autism awareness to New Zealand through a new partnership with Autism New Zealand. The deal, which involves HIT Entertainment, who owns the rights to Thomas, together with Australian/New Zealand agent Haven Licensing, follows on similar partnerships the property has formed with autism organizations in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia.
Haven Licensing has produced Thomas & Friends bumper stickers, which will be available from all branches of Autism NZ and from the NZ ‘Day Out With Thomas’ live event partner, the Glenbrook Vintage Railway in Auckland. Additionally, proceeds from selected screenings of the new Thomas & Friends movie Misty Island Rescue will be donated to support ongoing research into autism spectrum disorders.
Thomas & Friends fans can also visit the Autism New Zealand website www.autismnz.org.nz to play an interactive Emotions Game, which allows children with autism to identify and learn about emotions in an interactive way.
Research conducted in both Australia and the UK have demonstrated that many children with autism have a particular affinity towards the Thomas & Friends TV series due to the characters’ clear facial expressions. Parents have also reported that Thomas & Friends helps their children understand the feelings and emotions of others.