A Touch of Magic - by Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir
A Touch of Magic
by Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir
President and Director of Golden Hat Foundation
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I welcome you to the first entry of the Golden Hat Foundation Blog.
A long and life-changing journey has led me to where I am today. I never could have imagined that my decision to make a documentary about autism would blossom into the beautiful project it has become.
Of course, none of our success could have been possible without the support, time, energy, and determination of the many people who have helped make this dream a reality.
The documentary, “A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism”, started with an idea – something I knew in my heart that I had to do.
I had been told again and again that nothing more could be done for my severely autistic son Keli, who is completely non-verbal and has very limited body awareness. Nevertheless, I wanted to find answers to provide to the many other families living with autism with the information that I had been seeking for years.
Over the course of filming “A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism,” I came to the realization that Keli may actually possess the same capability for learning as other children his age. My son now communicates through the use of a letter board, and words cannot express the feeling of getting to know my own child after years of silence and uncertainty.
But to be honest, I initially had no expectations for the film because, in my experience, people did not seem to be all that interested in autism. Because I could not convince a producer to make the film on a voluntary basis, I decided to produce it myself for no compensation.
I am so thankful to the First Lady of Iceland, Dorrit Moussaieff, for both graciously agreeing to serve as patron of the project and later introducing Kate Winslet to it.
I first met Kate in a studio in London in August 2009 when she was recording the narration for the film. I remember being struck by her beauty; wearing no make-up and dressed casually, she was more beautiful in person than in any film I had ever seen. Her charisma and enthusiasm to narrate the film and learn more about autism was deeply moving.
Shortly after that first meeting, I wrote Kate to express my gratitude for her kindness. We began exchanging emails. Kate was so inspired by the documentary that she asked me if there was anything she could do for Keli, me, or other parents and children who live with autism. It was through our email correspondence that I shared my vision of creating specially designed communities to meet the unique needs of adults with autism.
I told Kate that, when I am gone, I want Keli to be in a place where he is respected as an intelligent human being, despite his autism and the strain and limitations it places upon him. I want him to flourish and prosper in his own right and based on his own strengths, like my other sons. I realize that although he can never be fully independent, Keli is intellectually capable.
And with that, the Golden Hat Foundation was born.
It was from emails between Kate and me that inspired the foundation’s name. I sent Kate one of the first poems that Keli wrote (using his letter board), entitled “The Golden Hat”:
This boy had a golden hat.
The hat was magical.
It could talk.
The boy did not have any voice.
He had autism.
His hat was always with him.
His hat was lost one day.
Now he had no way of telling them his stories.
His mom and dad became sad.
They taught him spelling on a letter board.
It was hard.
I am so thankful to Kate for her passionate support in furthering the development of those living with autism who face extraordinary challenges. Not only did she literally provide them with a voice by narrating the film, she is also now giving them visibility in the world at large through her foundation.
The primary mission of the Golden Hat Foundation is to draw attention to the plight of nonverbal people with autism, who require a viable means of communication, a safe and enjoyable place to live and socialize, and a future filled with pride and accomplishments.
This is our dream for every person with autism.
We want people to know that behind their unconventional behaviors and communication difficulties, people with autism are thinking and feeling individuals who want and deserve respect and the opportunities to succeed in life.
The director of “A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism,” Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, once told me that he believed the project had a touch of magic surrounding it. When I access what we have accomplished thus far, I have to agree!
I will be donating all of the profits from the film to the Foundation.
Click on the “Take Action” tab near the top of this website to find out more about what you can do to raise awareness for autism and make a lasting difference.
Thank you again to everyone who blessed this project along the way and special thanks to Kate for founding the Golden Hat Foundation and making the world glow with her compassion and kindness.
Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir is the President and Director, Golden Hat Foundation; Founder of Frontier Filmworks, an Icelandic film production company; Producer of the documentary, entitled A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism (a.k.a The Sunhine Boy); and has held various other executive positions in Icelandic companies.
Golden Hat Walk for Autism
Dress the kids in gold, tie up your sneakers and join your friends on Saturday, August 17, for the Golden Hat Walk for Autism! This fun, gold-themed parade will also feature engaging kids activities and an interactive resource fair!
Click here to register, donate or volunteer!
Click here for the flyer.
Musical Stars Support Golden Hat Foundation with American Christmas Carol concert at Carnegie Hall
Click here for highlights.
Austin Book Signing Features Local Stars from The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism
Click here for highlights.
GHF Hosts 2012 World Autism Awareness Day in Conjunction with the United Nations
Click here for highlights.
Golden Hat Foundation Partners with 100 Celebrities for Coffee Table Book
Click here for the press release.
Kate Winslet Creates a New Foundation for Autism
Click Here for the press release.