Special CIIE performance by ‘children from the stars’
By Zhang Debing
On November 8, a group of seven autistic children from the Angel Bosom Friend Salon visited the 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE). Dressed in white shirts and dark trousers, they posed at the exhibition booth of Uniqlo, a leading global clothing retailer, and put on a performance featuring a brass quintet and sax solo. The music they played impressed the audience and highlighted Uniqlo’s motto of “embracing kindness and beauty for a shared future.”
Cao Peng, a famous Chinese conductor and music educator, is the major donor of the Shanghai Cao Peng Charity Foundation. In 2008, he partnered with the Shanghai Municipal Charity Foundation to establish the Angel Bosom Friend Salon. The goal of the project was to organize a band of children with autism to open their minds with music. Cao also created interactive programs such as “Love Coffee,” “Love Classroom,” “Love Baking,” and “Love Ping-pong” for the children to learn to better relate to other people. With the assistance of hundreds of young volunteers, he has kindled new hope for autistic children and their families.
The band’s performance at the Uniqlo’s exhibition booth surprised and moved the audience. One woman was moved to tears. “I couldn’t hold back the tears the moment I heard them play,” she said.
Autistic children are known as “children from the stars” in China. Cao Peng and his Shanghai Cao Peng Music Center first started working with Uniqlo in 2015 to provide care and assistance to the “children from the stars.” Since then, they have organized 27 experience activities for autistic children at Uniqlo stores. Every year, Uniqlo organizes activities in its stores to teach the children how to fold clothes properly and how to paint pictures and print them on T-shirts. Volunteers also show them how to buy clothes in the stores. The various activities have helped the children learn to be independent and live a normal life through common sense.
For the 5th CIIE, managers of Uniqlo and the Angel Bosom Friend Salon agreed that organizing an on-site performance would be a good idea to build a bridge for the autistic children to communicate with the general public and boost their social confidence. Although it was their first visit to the expo, the children adapted to the environment quite well. Their music performance in Uniqlo’s 1,000-square-meter LifePark exhibition space left the audience impressed even more with the brand’s vision of “technology, fashion, quality, and sustainability.”