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Almeida Junior is bronze in the Abrasce Awards with autism awareness actions

The project covers the training of shopping mall employees and the opening of exclusive parking spot availability for persons with autism spectrum


With innovative actions on raising autism awareness, Almeida Junior was one of the winners in the 2022 Abrasce Awards from the Brazilian Association of Shopping Centers, in the People Management category, being awarded the bronze medal, with a record of registrations and 285 cases evaluated by experts. The winners were announced on this Wednesday’s (22) evening, in São Paulo, at the closing ceremony of the sector’s largest event.

Starting from the goal of enabling better inclusion and reception for people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Almeida Junior has developed a project covering a number of actions, such as training front line employees in the company’s six shopping malls to support ASD individuals, and the availability of exclusive parking spots for these people, a pioneering initiative in Santa Catarina.

All the results from this initiative were presented in the case “Almeida Junior group: SC pioneer in supporting and approaching individuals with autism”, now acknowledged by Abrasce. “We are touched by the fact that social environments must be accessible, inclusive and supportive for ASD individuals, and we embrace this cause by transforming something that has happened in one of our malls into a project of great importance, impact and awareness for the society. Always in accordance with our goal of positively changing people’s lives”, stresses Monique Campos, Marketing and Relations Head at Almeida Junior.

“This was another cause that the company embraced and knows how important it is. For the first time in the state, the first action was the development of a training and qualification program for supporting and approaching ASD individuals, replicated for all employees in the group’s six shopping malls”, highlights Beth Rachelle, People and Management Head at Almeida Junior.

The training was carried out in a partnership with AMA (Autism Parents and Friends Association), from Blumenau, and with the Santa Catarina Military Police (PMSC). Guidance on the autism spectrum, auditive and visual conflicts within a shopping center, correct methods of supporting and approaching ASD individuals, and also an explanation on laws and rights towards people with autism was given to the employees. The training became part of Almeida Junior’s schedule and is given every six months to employees.

Periodically, the Almeida Junior shopping centers also promote the Blue Session, an inclusive and exclusive cinema session for people with autism. Some things make all the difference: the room’s volume is decreased and 50% of the lights remain on and people are allowed to enter and exit the room at any time.


Project Origin

It started with an episode that took place in the premises of the Neumarkt Shopping in Blumenau, where the opportunity of transforming it into a positive initiative in the company came. In August 2021, an ASD child sat in a leased fire-truck-like toy car. The store clerk asked the family the child’s weight – who at the time weighed 30 kilograms – and then informed that he wouldn’t be able to ride the toy car due to weight requirements of 28 kilograms maximum. The father explained that the child was autistic and that it would be tough to remove him from the toy car right away, but the clerk didn’t know how to handle this situation, which was enough to trigger discontent in the family.  After this episode, and touched by not only the child’s situation but also by empathetically putting ourselves in the shoes of all individuals within the autism spectrum, the shopping mall promptly scheduled a planning meeting to develop actions towards this cause. The board understood that such actions should be carried out in all of Almeida Junior’s shopping centers.