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Spiralling colourful brollies unveiled at Union Square to celebrate neurodiversity in Aberdeen

A series of spirals made up of colourful brollies has burst into life in Union Square as part of Aberdeen’s summer-long Umbrella Project to celebrate neurodiversity. 

Passers-by stopped to enjoy the unveiling of the new installation – along with a performance by young dancers from Citymoves – which will see the bright umbrellas add colour to the prestigious shopping centre for the next few weeks.

The new display joins the bright umbrellas already livening up Shiprow and both locations will act as eye-catching centrepieces for the Umbrella Project, staged by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with the ADHD Foundation.

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the “umbrella term” neurodiversity which includes ADHD, autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

This eye-catching installation of spiralling brollies is the first time the Umbrella Project has been hosted by Union Square and will be seen by thousands of visitors in the coming weeks. 

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “We are thrilled to see the Umbrella Project take up residence in such a highly-visible and hugely popular spot in the heart of Aberdeen. 

“It will help the powerful message behind the Umbrella Project – inclusivity, understanding and celebration – reach even more people and we are grateful to the management and team at Union Square for their support.”

Adrian was speaking as two dance groups from Citymoves – Bring It Boys and inclusive youth dance company Horizons – brought some showbiz razzmatazz to the unveiling ceremony.

Many passers-by stopped to watch, take photos and applaud the moving moment.

The Bring It Boys performed a piece called The Fire Within, bringing their inner phoenix to life, showcasing their determination, resilience and tenacious energy. Horizons work, Soar, was a celebration of the friendships the group have created through dancing together each week. 

Ryan Manson, centre director for Union Square, said they were proud to be hosting the Umbrella Project and thanked Aberdeen Inspired and to the ADHD Foundation for partnering with them.

“The project not only looks fantastic, but it also celebrates neurodiversity, and raises important awareness of the support that is available to individuals and families in the city. We hope our customers enjoy visiting the installation, and encourage them to interact with what they see, taking the time to reflect.”

Tony Lloyd, CEO of the ADHD Foundation, welcomed the umbrella spirals. 

“This celebration of the one in five of us who ‘Think Differently’ shines a light on  the link between innovation, creativity, invention, entrepreneurship and neurodiversity. The bold message from Aberdeen Inspired and the businesses across Aberdeen is ‘dare to think differently’.”

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.

Mavis Anagboso, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Harbour Energy, said: “Harbour Energy is once again proud to partner with Aberdeen Inspired as the principal sponsor of this worthy cause to promote neurodiversity awareness in Aberdeen City. We hope the Union Square umbrella installation will spark interest in neurodiversity and what it means for society”.

Barry Duncan, managing director of CNR International, said: “CNR International prides itself on having a culture that has diversity and inclusion at its core, and was once again delighted to support the neurodiversity Umbrella Project launch event and the impressive display of umbrellas in Shiprow and Union Square, as well as our own display in our reception at St Magnus House, aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of neurodiversity.”

Amanda McCulloch, chief executive of TMM Recruitment, said: “It’s fantastic that Union Square is supporting the ADHD Umbrella Project because there are only a handful of venues across the city that could reach such a large, diverse audience. 

“It’s going to be a great talking point for visitors to the centre, spreading the message of neurodiversity acceptance and understanding more widely than ever before in Aberdeen.”

In addition to the display on Shiprow, schools and businesses are being asked to take part and create their own mini-installations of umbrellas to celebrate the intelligence and ability of every human being.

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.