For all the salacious scandals and bad behavior we see celebrities play out in the headlines, there are some who use their fame and status do good. Kate Winslet is an incredible example of that. While the talented actress may be better known for Titanic or Mildred Pierce, behind the scenes she's a fierce advocate for people with autism -- especially those who are nonverbal.
In a recent interview with Ladies Home Journal she talked about how her work narrating the 2010 documentary A Mother's Courage: Talking Back to Autism changed her view of the disorder, and how she wants to do what she can to help change the view for others as well. "To say I was moved sounds so very basic," she told the magazine. "I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was being asked, as an actress, to use my voice for children who have no voice."
But she didn't stop there.
She has since launched the Golden Hat Foundation, which is named for a hat the mother in the documentary -- Margret Ericsdottir -- used to help her autistic son communicate with the world. Winslet is also releasing a coffee table book this spring titled "The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism" that features celebrities from George Clooney to Michael Phelps wearing one special hat. She went to great feats to get people to wear it, but wasn't always successful. She said she had no luck with one high profile figure -- Bill Clinton -- even after crashing a dinner party to get to him.
More from The Stir: Incredible Kid With Autism Needs Help Raising $1 Million for the Cause
Still, the book is powerful in its efforts to help people understand what's typically a very misunderstood disorder. As Winslet told the magazine:
The world is still struggling to know where to place people with nonverbal autism. Often they are institutionalized and never experience being part of a community, especially one in which they can learn to communicate and realize their full potential.
Proceeds will be used to support her foundation, which is designed to help eliminate barriers for people with autism around the world, and create an environment "that holds these individuals as intellectually capable." They work to set up campuses that provide people with autism education, job training, and recreation.
There are approximately 67 million people worldwide with autism; roughly half do not have functional speech. Yet, as this book proves, there are ways to hear them. We just need to start listening.
More from The Stir: 10 Common Autism Myths: Special Needs Living
I'd say this is some of her finest work yet. Bravo.
What do you think of Kate Winslet's efforts to support individuals with autism?
Image via Amazon