My son Arun is 14 years old and currently attends Baston House School, which is run by Options group. A few weeks ago, it was requested that students from Year 10 onward were to gain work experience. When this was first suggested I was apprehensive as I was unsure if my son would be able to cope. Thankfully being a Charity Champion at Anna Kennedy Online and knowing how wonderful the charity is and  having being involved since 2012, I thought to ask if my son could have work experience through Anna Kennedy Online instead.

Anna agreed straight away and gave me some great ideas on how we could excel Arun’s skill set, we created list of tasks and two very exciting opportunities were also coincident with the work experience dates. Arun’s options are Media, ICT and music, this overlapped with the websites and the media aspect of the charity.

On week one, Arun started his work experience with learning how the websites worked and how to post articles and learn tech stuff, which he was keen to learn more and more.

The first exciting opportunity was on Tuesday 30th April – Anna invited Autism Champion Cllr Jerry Fitzpatrick from Croydon Council as a guest on ‘All Things Autism’ Anna’s weekly live radio show. I prepared Arun for the journey to London and showed him photos, articles and previous podcasts so he knew what to expect. We met Anna, Jerry and Pamela Edwards is an experienced Teaching Assistant from Arun’s school, Baston House School who also attended to observe the work placement.

Arun really looked after Jerry, he shared music interests and asked Jerry questions when live on air. Anna was brilliant and prepared Arun on what to expect on live radio and when the breaks were, it was so relaxed and such a unique experience that left Arun buzzing.

Arun heard the podcast when it was published and shared “I really enjoyed my work experience with Anna Kennedy Online and learnt so much about websites, podcasts and thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jerry and asking him questions on live radio. I gained so much from this involvement and would like to say thank you to Anna for this opportunity as it has made me feel so much more confident”.

The following week was the last week of the work experience and Arun was a volunteer there as part of his work experience and the legendary Autism’s Got Talent show in London. This was incredible as I have attended every year. For Arun it was daunting at first and Beverly (another Charity Champion) and I showed him around the Mermaid theatre and when he was ready an introduction to the families we were looking after on the day.

Arun was soon at ease and was welcomed by everyone in the AKO team, he felt comfortable straight away. During rehearsals Arun was mesmerised by the talented acts and started filming and watching how it all worked. As the day went on, Arun was really astounded by how quickly time went and was getting so involved with filming and photos.

Charity champion Beverly spent quite some time with Arun and shared: “I observed Arun filming rehearsals, clapping and cheering on the performers which was giving them motivation. He even started giving directions out to everyone and his confidence just bloomed. I also saw he was good at filming and super polite to everyone. I saw him looking for photographic opportunities around the theatre and was checking various angles and could see his excitement grow as the day went on”

Arun shared:“Autism’s Got Talent was the biggest of many highlights during my work experience and Anna is an incredible lady and absolute legend putting such an amazing show together. I want to do work experience again with AKO next year as have had an amazing time and felt that everyone there just understood one another, I loved it!”.

The whole evening and day went so fast and from a Mum’s perspective I am so proud to be part of AKO and would like to say a huge thank you to Anna for giving such a wonderful opportunity to Arun, this experience has changed him.

Arun has taken so much motivation and inspiration, his confidence has grown, he is keen to learn more and this opening has given him positive direction and encouragement to help him believe that nothing is impossible.

Also, thank you to Inside Croydon for covering this topic – click here to read the supportive article. 

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News Anna Kennedy Online – young learner has Charity work experience