Airports as Artports


Super-powered umbrellas

A dazzling new summer artwork at Heathrow Airport is not just attention-grabbing, it also celebrates the gifts, talents and employability of those with neuro-developmental disorders.

A super-powered artwork is on display at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 this summer. The colourful ‘Umbrella Project’ installation won’t just brighten travellers’ journeys – it also has an important message.

Umbrella Project features a canopy of brightly coloured umbrellas and is part of an initiative to raise awareness of neuro-developmental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

The artwork was devised by the ADHD Foundation, and celebrates the gifts, talents and employability of those with neuro-developmental disorders. The installation forms part of a wider education programme with participating local schools.

The project name stems from the use of ADHD and autism as ‘umbrella terms’ for many neurological conditions and reframes them for children as unique ‘super powers’.

The colourful umbrellas reframe neurological conditions as ‘super powers’

Heathrow becomes the first airport to host the ‘Umbrella Project’ artwork, and it also the first time it has been available to view in London. The installation will run in T5 until October.

Umbrella Project aligns with Heathrow’ commitment to ensuring that all 80 million passengers travelling through the airport each year are able to do so in the way they choose. In 2017, the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG) was set up to provide a passenger perspective on accessibility and inclusion; meet regularly to provide independent and constructive advice; and address challenges.

The installation follows the introduction of initiatives including sunflower lanyards that allow passengers needing tailored help and support to discreetly identify themselves to Heathrow staff; investments in training, equipment and signage to improve the airport’s accessibility; fully accessible assistance videos showing the support available; and the installation of a sensory room in Terminal 3, alongside a plan to deliver dedicated quiet areas across the airport.

“We’re delighted to welcome the Umbrella Project to Heathrow, raising much needed awareness of hidden disabilities and providing a fantastic, thought-provoking visual experience for all our passengers this summer,” said Heathrow Director of Customer Relations and Service Liz Hegarty.

The vibrant artwork makes a compelling photo opportunity

“We recognise that travelling can be a challenging experience for many people and are continually improving our assistance service, ensuring every single passenger feels at ease when they begin their journey with us.”

ADHD Foundation Chief Executive Dr Tony Lloyd said it had been a “joy” to work in partnership with Heathrow to promote neurodiversity and “celebrate the intelligence, ability and employability of neurodiverse people. What a fantastic display and message to greet the millions of passengers that come through Terminal 5.”

The UK’s Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport Nusrat Ghani said the artwork aligned with a government commitment to provide equal access on the country’s transport network.

She commented: “Heathrow’s partnership with the ADHD Foundation celebrates diversity and sends a welcome message to people with hidden disabilities, promoting the support available to help improve their journeys and get on with their lives.”

Heathrow has launched a “fantastic, thought-provoking visual experience”

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The Moodie Davitt eZine | Issue 263 | 20 June 2019