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20220625 Aberdeen Umbrella Project 013

Music and colour is always the order of the day when the Umbrella Project is launched. Image - Aberdeen Inspired

Aberdeen’s Umbrella Project will be launched in a blaze of colour, song and dance on Shiprow on Saturday, May 18.

A rich cast of local performers – from dancers to pipe bands and even songs from the musicals – will be unfurled to launch the summer-long canopy of bright brollies to celebrate and raise awareness of neurodiversity.

Aberdeen Inspired – who are leading the campaign in partnership with the ADHD Foundation – are inviting people to come along to enjoy the launch ceremony at 11am and show their support for this worthy cause.

Performers taking part include the Robert College Pipe Band, Citymoves Dance Agency, Music 4 U, and Aberdeen Art Centre’s own Castlegate Theatre Company who will belt out a selection of show tunes inspired by West End musicals.

Also in the mix is the appropriately named Umbrella A Capella, a city-based inclusive choir for neurodivergent individuals, whose “everybody can sing” approach will see the public being involved in the fun, too.

Umbrellas credit Douglas Hotel

The Umbrella Project celebrates and raises awareness of neurodiversity. Image - Supplied by the Douglas Hotel.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “What better way to usher in the Umbrella Project and this always welcome display that brings colour and vibrancy to Shiprow than to enjoy some excellent performances from the cream of local talent.

“There is, of course, a fantastic message behind not just the launch but the display itself. The Umbrella Project reflects, raises awareness, and celebrates the fact that one in five people are neurodiverse. We would welcome as many people as possible on Saturday, May 18, to be part of that celebration.”

The Umbrella Project which will run until September is a tribute to the “umbrella” term of neurodiversity, which includes ADHD, autism, Tourette's Syndrome, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

As well as the partnership with Aberdeen Inspired and ADHD Foundation, the project has Harbour Energy as headline sponsors and is also being supported by TMM Recruitment and CNR International. In addition to the display on Shiprow, schools and businesses are being asked to take part and create their own mini-installations to celebrate the intelligence and ability of every human being.

Shiprow Umbrellas 3 Credit Aberdeen Inspired

The colourful brollies will be on Shiprow until September. Image - Supplied by Aberdeen Inspired.

Mavis Anagboso, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Harbour Energy, said: “The colourful umbrellas in Shiprow and across Aberdeen city, a symbol of our commitment to promoting Neurodiversity awareness, are increasingly seen as a part of the fabric of local culture. Harbour Energy is proud to be the principal sponsor of this worthy cause.

“We hope that every colourful umbrella in Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire will serve as a reminder of how unique our minds are. Stay curious and use this as an opportunity to promote neurodiversity in your workplace, schools and homes. Together we can make a difference and make Aberdeen a more neuroinclusive society to live and work in.”

The event will also see various speakers welcoming the arrival of the Umbrella Project – including Councillor Martin Greig, culture spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council.

He said: “The umbrella initiative reminds us to support those who experience neurodiversity. This is an important project that does so much to promote inclusion and respect. I am pleased that we can highlight the issue in this positive visual way.”


Not long now until the umbrellas are installed on Shiprow. Image - Aberdeen Inspired

Aberdeen Inspired wants to ensure the launch event – which is backed by the Shiprow Village - is fully accessible to all including those who are neurodiverse.

To do this, the Business Improvement District is delighted to be working with local accessibility charity We Too! on the event.

We Too! will provide a sensory space at the event for anyone who needs this, with several of their ‘Ninjas’ attending to lend a helping hand and support those attending.

We Too! will also produce a visual guide for the event, to help those considering attending to be more informed in advance and prepared, in order to maximise their enjoyment.

Many of the performers and groups taking part are also looking forward to the launch event.

Robin Macpherson, Head of Robert Gordon's College, said: “Our pipe band is delighted to be supporting the launch of the project again this year because it really helps to bring people together in a spirit of celebration. We are always willing to play our part for neurodiversity in the Aberdeen community.”

You can find out more about the Umbrella Project – including a range of resources around neurodiversity – plus how to sign up for your own mini-installation by visiting Aberdeen Inspired’s Umbrella Project 2024 website.