• 2024-06-21
  • Unimarc

Municipalidad de Temuco and Unimarc Implement "Hora Silenciosa" to Support Individuals with Autism

On June 21st, authorities from Municipalidad de Temuco, led by Mayor Roberto Neira, representatives from ASD organizations and foundations, and supermarket executives gathered at the Unimarc on Caupolicán Street. They launched the "Hora Silenciosa" in the community, an initiative designed to create a more comfortable shopping environment for individuals with ASD and other neurodivergent conditions.

Approximately a month ago, in May 2024, the Municipalidad de Traiguén in the Araucanía Region was the first to invite local supermarkets to adopt the groundbreaking "Hora Silenciosa". These actions are aimed at reducing tasks considered sensitive from a sensory perspective.

Sensory hypersensitivity is common among individuals diagnosed with ASD and other neurodivergent conditions, making certain visual and auditory stimuli potentially distressing for them.

Unimarc on calle Caupolicán will dim lights, lower music, and eliminate checkout noises daily from 3 PM to 4 PM. Additionally, the supermarket staff will receive training to provide better support to customers during their shopping experience.

Mayor Roberto Neira stated, "We learned about the initiative taken by the Municipalidad de Traiguén in collaboration with some private companies, particularly Unimarc, and good ideas should be replicated. We aim to expand this initiative because inclusivity and creating an inclusive city improves the quality of life for individuals with ASD. I also want to thank the numerous organizations that have worked tirelessly, leading to the enactment of the ASD law in Chile. Their efforts have been invaluable."

Peter Van Lankeren, Unimarc’s regional manager, commented, "Being part of this initiative marks another step in our daily commitment to making Chile a more inclusive society. At Unimarc, we strive to ensure that everyone feels welcome, especially individuals with ASD and other neurodivergent conditions. We hope that over time, 'Hora Silenciosa' will be implemented in as many businesses as possible throughout the region."

He also highlighted the Inclusive Assistance program that Unimarc is implementing, now available in 13 stores, including the one on calle Caupolicán in Temuco. This program allows individuals with disabilities to schedule assistance from a staff member who will accompany them during their shopping and at checkout. Unimarc stores with this program have teams trained to address any issues and provide support.

"We recognize that individuals with disabilities may need specific attention during their shopping experience, and we value all efforts that promote inclusion and enhance the quality of life for our community members," explained Van Lankeren.

While there are no exact figures for Chile, data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggest that one in 88 children has ASD, a higher rate than the World Health Organization's global estimate of one in 160.