Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
World Autism Day – An inspiring song created by our Ambassador Ethan Khumalo

World Autism Day – An inspiring song created by our Ambassador Ethan Khumalo

World Autism Day

An inspiring song created by our Ambassador – Ethan Khumalo

Ethan Khumalo is eighteen years of age and an autistic dancer and lyricist that performs Grime/Rap music. His aim is to inspire other people that are autistic and also have mental health issues and wants to inspire the talent within them and they can use it, and to find confidence in themselves to showcase it.

Ethan has been dancing for 11 years and then started rapping. Anna Kennedy and Ethan first crossed paths in 2016 where he performed for the first time, at Autism’s Got Talent. Since then, more opportunities arouse.

In 2017 he won a scholarship to train with Pineapple Performing Arts School. Ethan shared:

“Fast forward to now, I am now an ambassador for Anna Kennedy Online. If you asked me how it feels to be an ambassador, l would say it feels humbling to be part of the AKO family. I never expected this honour and privilege. Thank you Anna for creating a platform for people like us, to showcase us talented individuals, to speak for the voiceless.

Anna and the team are a role model to the SEND community, whatever she speaks on, needs to be heard left, right and centre, most people can relate, we just need more to hear us out, which is why we’re raising awareness, people are getting the message which is a good thing.

What I hope to bring to the AKO charity, is to raise further awareness and acceptance in the community and promote the charity as well. I will be doing more rapping and dancing and articles to articulate my thoughts on what happens in life (Black Lives Matter, mental health, autism of course, music, environmental events/incidents). To now be a part of the AKO is unexpected, but definitely worthwhile. l am proper happy that I am an AKO ambassador, I think this is one of my BEST moments; to DATE. Anna has shown me a endless amount of love and support in what I do ever since we met. Thank you Anna for this moment, it wouldn’t have been possible without you, and also for showing me support each and every single time.”

The Odd One Out (Autism Awareness) Prod by me / Unable / Lyrics:

Can’t find myself in distress again the same way that my jeans would be ripped, there wouldn’t be days where I wouldn’t be okay, whys that cause I’m autistic, a reason why I’m doing music, the same reason why I’m still here and doing it, I’m grateful for how far people like us came in the world being autistic,

There’s a reason I’m raising awareness here, shout out to Anna Kennedy, we’re still hungry for change, but they think that’s just the game like Katniss Everdeen, some of us would not be able to go outside cos we might not know other people, but I find it good and I find it great that we have supportive people.

I’ll live and perish for good, it’s okay to be different is the message I push, it’s okay to be you is the message I push, just to state that everyone feels good, it’s ok to be you it’s okay to be unique, it’s okay for you to think differently, this is more than a disability, it’s a superpower that runs in our genes, no DNA, Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away.

Yet people look at this subject in a different way, and we’re still fighting for the positive change, and that’s to make sure that we’re safe, but the struggles within us are never going away, How many people did we try to avoid and how many crowds made so much noise, there is also autistic girls and not just autistic boys, some of us would not have a voice, and others are still finding their voices, to express themselves in a way to block all of these unwanted noises.

Life ain’t sunshine and rainbows, it will bring thunder and lightning, it will bring clouds and rainfall, but we are blessed for the helpful guidance, from everyone around us, but there’s others who tried to doubt us, but let’s get away from those type of people that wanted to doubt us.

Vulnerability is not an option, and that’s something that cannot be mocked, that’s for the bullies to hear, you need to know that life is a lot, give us a break like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay, give us a break like the campaign, so that everyone feels okay.

It’s okay to be different, that’s the message I’m pushing, just so you know we can do it, knowing that we can put our minds to it, even though life would treat us differently at times, we still managed to get through it.

Please watch and listen Ethan’s video below:

Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio – Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio – Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

 ‘All things Autism’ Anna’s guests this week at Women’s Radio was Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain

Anna Kennedy’s guests this week on Women’s Radio Station was Neeraj Sharma from Daisy Chain. ‘All things Autism and life in Lockdown’ will be aired at 1pm and 1am every day this week.  Please see www.womensradiostation.com

​This is Neeraj’s story: Neeraj, who has trained as a solicitor and spent the last seven years at the helm of the Citizens Advice Bureau in Darlington, has been able to bring his skills, knowledge and talents to Daisy Chain.

Neeraj had a major impact on Citizens Advice Darlington bringing in sources of revenue and establishing relationships with the community, funders and stakeholders. He introduced a range of new services including the introduction of asocial isolation programme for older people as well as a youth employability programme for those aged 16 to 30.

Neeraj Sharma

Neeraj said: ‘My work has centred on ensuring that struggling families and individuals are supported to overcome key developmental barriers through access to free advice, information, advocacy and training. It is important that families and individuals access all the support they are entitled to so they can have the best possible life outcomes.

Up until now, my work has been with people who have been deprived of the support they need and have reached crisis point. I seek to harness the skills that I have acquired working in a rights based arena and redeploy these to field of autism support services provided by Daisy Chain.

‘The Daisy Chain day centre, farm and outdoor activity spaces provide a vital safe haven and productive platform for both children and adults. I am delighted to be tasked with the opportunity to expand upon the beneficial and vital autism based support services across the Tees Valley.’

About Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain Project’s mission is to improve the lives of families affected by autism across the Tees Valley and surrounding areas.

Daisy Chain is a 5.5 acre site:

  1. Day & Learning Centre – state of the art sensory equipment
  2. Therapeutic Farm
  3. Sensory Play Gardens
  4. Polytunnel and Eco-environmental growth areas for Adults with Autism

We provide:

  1. Respite
  2. Activity Clubs
  3. Independent Living Skills Training & Employability Scheme
  4. Schools placement programme in accordance with Schools across the Tees Valley
  5. Training and support programmes for Families,
  6. Accredited training for Schools, Employers, Businesses

Annually, we offer

  1. Loss of routine
  2. Sensory Issues (such as sensory overload within the home….panic buying leading to loss of food types where those individual not being able to access food which meets their sensory needs)
  3. Extreme loneliness and Isolation
Daisy chain sensory
‘The Daisy Chain day centre, farm and outdoor activity spaces provide a vital safe haven and productive platform for both children and adults. I am delighted to be tasked with the opportunity to expand upon the beneficial and vital autism based support services across the Tees Valley.’
Daisy Chain

More About Daisy Chain

In response to National lockdown we launched a support line for families and Young Period.  To date we have supported over 1800 calls and rising.

Callers can access the support line by calling:  The telephone support service is on freephone number 0800 031 5445

Our telephone and virtual support service offers individuals and those around them access to a specialist team who provide signposting, bespoke visual resources, personalised family support and bespoke strategies and interventions, alongside being a listening service.

This support is offered over the phone and by video-conference, giving families access to the advice and information that they would otherwise be missing out on at this time, and is in response to the increased demand identified during and following the first lockdown.

As a charity we have sustained mammoth £400,000 financial losses due to closure of our Superstore on Protract Lane, Cessation of our Training and Fundraising Income.

Coming out of lockdown has not been a straightforward proposition, we have seen an increase in acute support needs at a time when we are seeing a loss of 20% of our income.  Combined with social distancing measures logistically we have had to make many changes in order to operate.

Daisychainstore.co.uk   – “Launched”

Following the significant and detrimental financial impact of the first national lockdown earlier in 2020 which led to the closure of the charity’s superstore which sells high-quality donated items including clothing, furniture and household goods we launched a new initiative.   Daisy Chain Store, an online shop selling high-end clothing giving customers nationally the opportunity to grab a bargain while helping us recoup lost funds caused by the pandemic.

The online fashion platform for designer and vintage items features brands such as Valentino, Dior and Versace, and is an expansion of our online offer which also includes a presence on Depop and eBay in addition to our social media accounts.

Fundraising – “Win a Wedding”

As part of our fight back campaign we have launched a fundraising initiative:

We’re offering couples the opportunity to win a complete wedding package in return for raising £500 for Daisy Chain, vital income to allow us to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the North East.

We’re hoping it will give a couple who may not otherwise be able to tie the knot the opportunity to do so, and as we know so many people’s weddings have been impacted this year, we’ve opened it up to people who have been married since 23rd March to give them the opportunity to have the ‘do’ that they have missed out on due to lockdown and restrictions.

You can find out more about the competition here: www.daisychainproject.co.uk/win-a-wedding

Daisy Chain Store

Following the significant and detrimental financial impact of the first national lockdown earlier in 2020 which led to the closure of the charity’s superstore which sells high-quality donated items including clothing, furniture and household goods we launched a new initiative.

Daisy Chain Store, an online shop selling high-end clothing giving customers nationally the opportunity to grab a bargain while helping us recoup lost funds caused by the pandemic.

The online fashion platform for designer and vintage items features brands such as Valentino, Dior and Versace, and is an expansion of our online offer which also includes a presence on Depop and eBay in addition to our social media accounts.

Click here for the website   

Fundraising – “Win a Wedding” 

As part of our fight back campaign we have launched a fundraising initiative:

We’re offering couples the opportunity to win a complete wedding package in return for raising £500 for Daisy Chain, vital income to allow us to continue supporting some of the most vulnerable people in the North East.

We’re hoping it will give a couple who may not otherwise be able to tie the knot the opportunity to do so, and as we know so many people’s weddings have been impacted this year, we’ve opened it up to people who have been married since 23rd March to give them the opportunity to have the ‘do’ that they have missed out on due to lockdown and restrictions.

You can find out more about the competition: Click here for details

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

Ethan Khumzy: Melanin Part 2

One of our Autism’s got Talent Performers and Pineapple Performing Arts Charity Scholarship winners Ethan Khumzy shared:

‘This piece of rap I’ve written is called ‘Melanin – this is Part 2’.

Many more years, we’re still screaming out their names, instead we’re still not finding change, if you was in our position, you’d be feeling our pain, you’re either Locked in the cage or you’d get called names,

You tend to look at us like we’re moving the same, thinking we’re some thugs, just because of our race, violations to my race is what I cannot take, every day, every night, we never get a break,

My colour of my skin is not a weapon in your eyes, just cause you see how my people are like, it’s the way that they see us, there’s no way out of this, on top of that, there’s no point even doubting it,

The hate they give, is the hate they’ve been kept with, that’s why we’re not resting, we’ll keep spreading out the message, we want Justice and also acceptance,

I’m a young black king, not a person that is hard work, you tend to hate when we’re putting in the hard work, all of us screaming out we just want acceptance, karma will be served to you, that’ll be your lesson, Black lives matter, we’re never treated equally, judging us harshly, because of our scenery, because of what we do, we’re locked up easily, if you’re a racist then please don’t speak to me,

I don’t wanna get stopped, I don’t wanna get locked, does this look like that I came from the block? No way, no time to be beefing opps, cos I’m not that guy that you see, end of, RIP to the ones of the lives that are lost, everyday I had conversations with God, Ive asking the man, when can it all stop, he replied I don’t know I guess it will not,

I can’t breathe were the words that George said, these words never got up to your head, to even acknowledge how you’re treating my people, don’t ever try calling my people evil, really you’re the ones acting evil towards us, we’ll, the karma will be sent back towards you, I got my brothers like I’m working for Warner, all racists should be pushed back like Walker,

See no evil, hear no evil, but they wanna speak the evil to my people, every year, every day, we face segregation, how the media portrays us, I strongly hate it, I’m looked at as a villain, but you’re looked like as a villain too, people, we bleed the same, that’s the living proof, how were living everyday, we found it the hardest, if you don’t sympathise with us, then you’re heartless.

Ethan Khumalo

Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

 Importance Of Role Models In My Life – by Ethan Khumalo

Life isn’t all that bad if you have the right role models with you. I see other black men doing well, they’re not thugs, or bad people, they inspire me to do great, ranging from my dance mentors, to having black teachers as well, and also we are seeing each other do well, I see Ashley Banjo doing well, I see Omar doing well, I see Marlon doing well, they are my role models inspiring me to do what I love doing… DANCE!

It’s not just my dance mentors I look up to, giving me inspiration that I love being different, there are black politicians doing well, Obama. Black musicians doing well (Sampha, Stormzy, Wretch 32, J Cole), actors (Idris Elba, Chadwick Boseman, John Boyega), even school teachers, chefs and comedians.

Take it back to June, when the BLM protests were around, John Boyega gave a powerful speech showing that we as black people are beautiful, excellent, have always mattered, and has also encouraged black men to take care of black women, mentioning that ‘black women are our hearts’ and ‘black men being the pillars of the family’. And we are!

Love yourself for who you are!

Announcing our new Ambassador – Ethan Khumalo

Announcing our new Ambassador – Ethan Khumalo

Anna Kennedy Online is proud to announce

 our new Ambassador Ethan Khumalo

Ethan is one of our new Ambassadors and we welcome to the AKO Family. Lovely to see in the last couple of years how is confidence has grown and the passion and talent he brings to whatever he takes part and he is amazing. Here is more about Ethan:

Hello everyone, my name is Ethan Khumalo, I am 17 years of age, and I am an autistic dancer and lyricist that performs Grime/Rap music.

My aim is to inspire other people that are autistic and also have mental health issues. I want to inspire the talent within them and they can use it; and to find confidence in themselves to showcase it. I have been dancing for 11 years now. I started at the age of 6. I then started rapping at that age as well, which then led me to write lyrics properly for two or three years now.

Anna Kennedy and l, first crossed paths in 2016. I performed for the first  time, at Autism’s Got Talent show alongside one of my old dance teams from WD Studios. It was an amazing show and experience.

Just watching a showcase of people on the autistic spectrum, ranging from singers, rappers, dancers, musicians, poets, even magicians. Since then, more opportunities have fortunately come my way, some of those being able to do solo performances, and l loved it. Am very grateful for the  opportunities.

2017, was such a great year filled with opportunities, one of them was winning a scholarship to train with Pineapple Performing Arts School. I was 14 years old when I applied for the scholarship.

Weeks later, it was announced that I was chosen to train with Pineapple in September. In the meantime l managed to get into Flawless Dance School so in the morning l trained with flawless dance school in the afternoon I was at pineapple studios. I enjoyed training at both studios, they were both different but helped my dancing journey. l was very happy no words could have expressed my feelings.

Ever since l started dancing, I found myself always wanting to dance. It made me more confident, l become a unique solo dance artist, l found myself dancing in a style called ‘Krump’. When l Krump I release my energy and express myself and my emotions. I feel free. I dance when l am happy, I dance when l am sad, l dance because l am a dancer and it is my passion. Dance and music have helped me through my GCSE exams and now with college.

Fast forward to now, I am now an ambassador for Anna Kennedy Online. If you asked me how it feels to be an ambassador, l would say it feels humbling to be part of the AKO family. I never expected this honour and privilege.

Thank  you Anna for creating a platform for people like us, to showcase us talented individuals, to speak for the voiceless.  Anna and the team are a role model to the SEND community, whatever she speaks on, needs to be heard left, right and centre, most people can relate, we just need more to hear us out, which is why we’re raising awareness, people are getting the message which is a good thing.

What I hope to bring to the AKO charity, is to raise further awareness and acceptance in the community and promote the charity as well. I will be doing more rapping and dancing and articles to articulate my thoughts on what happens in life (Black Lives Matter, mental health, autism of course, music, environmental events/incidents).

I was inspired to write when my mum wrote her article entitled ‘I am sad’ click here to read this. More people need to have a read and take note of, which then led me to write this article, you are reading right now.

One day Mum and l will write a book on our journey, not yet. To now be a part of the AKO is unexpected , but definitely worthwhile. l’m proper happy that I am an AKO ambassador, I think this is one of my BEST moments; to date.

Anna has shown me a endless amount of love and support in what I do ever since we met. Thank you Anna for this moment, it wouldn’t have been possible without you, and also for showing me support each and every single time.

Pam Aculey – Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio

Pam Aculey – Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio

Pam Aculey – Anna’s guest on All Things Autism radio show

Anna Kennedy OBE’s guest for this week on ‘All things Autism’ is Pam Aculeuy – Anna’s guest on Women’s Radio which will be aired at 1pm and 1am each day this week on  www.womensradiostation.com . Here is Pam’s article:

In 2017 my eldest son Walter was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He was four years old and completely non-verbal. As parents we found it incredibly hard to find books where children like Walter could see themselves in the pages of books.

They say “create the things you wish existed” so I started to write a children’s book series called ‘Just Like Me’ – where at the heart of each story we explore and promote diversity, inclusiveness, acceptance and kindness. Because we all know the world needs more of this!

As a black British  mother raising three boys of mixed heritage (Walter 6, Stanley 3 and Hugo 1) – I am fully aware of the lack of diversity in children’s literature and the work that still needs to be done in relation to better representation.

There are very limited resources when it comes to diversity and inclusivity. There are more children’s books being sold in the UK than ever before – but how accurately do they represent the society we all live in?

How many of your favourite picture books feature a main character from a BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) background? How many children’s books feature a disabled protagonist?  And when I say the world disabled, I don’t just refer to wheelchair bound. I also include those with motor disabilities, visual disabilities, learning/cognitive disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, neuro-diverse disabilities to name a few.

Although picture has improved since 2017, research shows that last year only 4% of the books for the youngest readers featured a minority ethnic hero’ [Extract from the Guardian, 2019].While books “about” diverse characters are important, so are books “by” diverse authors. BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) authors and illustrators are underrepresented in the children’s book market and according to the literacy charity Book Trust, fewer than 2% of children’s book creators are British people of colour.

1 in 20 children have a disability. That gives 19 children a daily opportunity to learn about diversity, inclusion and friendship. We know that children’s books can act like both mirrors and windows on the world.

Mirrors in that they can reflect on children’s own lives and windows in that they can give children a chance to learn about someone else’s life. Research has shown that when we are exposed to different ethnicity and abilities, when we learn about different cultures and traditions, it helps to reduce stereotypes, bring new life experiences, different ideas and a deeper connection to others.

Receiving our son’s ASD diagnosis was a life-changing moment. Whilst it provided us with an explanation for why he had been struggling socially and developmentally, it also installed panic, confusion and uncertainty for the road ahead. For some, receiving that important diagnosis can unlock access to the right support but for us and like many others, this was where the real struggle began.

Nearly a quarter of autistic children from Black and Minority Ethnic communities have been excluded from school and face “double discrimination” in the education system,  than half of parents from ethnic minorities with autistic children did not have a choice of school, while 78% said their local education authority did not provide support to their children during exclusion report by the National Autistic Society shows. 

Language and cultural barriers can also mean BAME families may be misunderstood or feel excluded from conversations with health professionals. Awareness of autism is not widespread in some BAME communities and for many years the black community has shunned talks about developmental disabilities and mental illness.

Whilst tight-knit communities can be an important source of support for people it can also inflict judgemental attitudes which can mean a delay in parents seeking an assessment or not seeking an assessment at all.

Today’s young generation are tomorrow’s musicians, teachers, artists, doctors, engineers etc. We need to start young and ensure children accept disability as part of the norm.

Adding diversity into their daily diet of stories will create a society where no one feels disadvantaged or restricted by their ethnicity, their gender, their background or their ability. Where we celebrate differences and the uniqueness of all children. Because every child should be able to say they’re a hero in their story.

You can find more details on her website and social media:

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