Anna Kennedy Online – is a UK based charity that promotes the inclusion and equality of children and adults with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) throughout society.
The charity raises awareness of autism as well as supporting children, adults and families affected by autism.
At their recent event, Autism’s Got Talent, that showcased the talents of individuals with autism, the two new Young Patrons of the charity were unveiled as Dermot McNamara and Ryan Wiggins.
Dermot is 16-years-old and has Asperger’s syndrome. He helps to promote events as well as helping to handle the PR for the charity.
Ryan is 14-years-old and has Asperger’s syndrome. He loves music and drama and took part in 2014’s Autism’s Got Talent show.
I got in touch with Ryan and Dermot and asked them a few questions about their new role within the charity.
How are you involved within the autism community?
As well as working in PR and being an AKO Young Patron, I’m also a student at Walsall College where I’m studying media. Through the College’s Student Union, I work with them to raise awareness of autism as well as help promote their Autism Support Group – in association with Autism West Midlands.
How did you become involved with AKO?
I have a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and obviously heard of Anna and her work before. I felt her work was overshadowed by bigger organisations such as the National Autistic Society (NAS). They do great things of course, and led the movement for autism awareness, although there are so many smaller charities such as AKO, who deserve recognition for their achievements.
I initially got involved with AKO by helping handle their publicity and by promoting their events – the first being Wear it for Autism in October 2014. I had booked the model and I’m a Celebrity contestant, Amy Willerton, to attend and present the first category onto the stage. She presented the Young Carer’s category – her brother has low-functioning autism and she has dedicated her teenage years to help look after him, along with raising awareness.
Since Anna did the People’s Strictly for Comic Relief, it’s been an utter roller coaster for all of us.
We’ve received more support from the press, as well as celebrities who Anna had met during her time on Strictly such as: Robin Windsor, Jake Wood and Lisa Riley. Their support has been incredible. Not to mention our long standing supporters: Arlene Phillips, Mitch Winehouse & George Gilbey.
Can you tell me a little about the role of Young Patron?
Post Wear it for Autism, I was approached by Anna Kennedy and Austin Hughes to become a Young Patron. They said because of the work I had done so far, it was their way of saying thanks.
Naturally, I was and still am thrilled to be part of the AKO team. My main role is helping promote events so I help book celebrities, press and paparazzi attendance.
I also help promote the charity’s upcoming campaigns and if any other members of the AKO team are attending events to make speeches etc.
There are always incredibly exciting things in the pipeline for Anna and AKO, which we’re all incredibly excited about. We’re planning on doing more fundraising with our celebrity supporters. We’ve been fortunate enough to enlist the support, of some of TV-land’s most recognised faces – which means we’re able to expand the reach of the charity, as well as raise more awareness!
Can you tell me a little about your experience at Autism’s Got Talent?