My Visit to Daisy Chain Charity

 

Last week I was kindly invited by Neeraj the CEO of ‘Daisy Chain Charity’, a charity which Anna is a patron for to have a tour of their centre and onsite farm so I could see what services they offer autistic and neurodivergent individuals. The centre offers a range of clubs, activities, well being support, performing arts groups and groups during the day that children who are struggling in mainstream can attend. The centre is open 7 days a week and evenings which is great.

 

The centre is set on a large site in Norton, Stockton, the outdoor facilities were amazing they have sensory playgrounds and gardens, quiet spaces, playground equipment for all ages and sensory needs, glamping pods where activities take place and my favourite was the farm which was so spacious, relaxing and truly amazing. I got to see the pigs, alpacas, goats, Shetland ponies, guinea pigs. The outdoor area also has poly tunnels where individuals get to work on projects like growing vegetables from seed taking care of them, growing them then cooking and eating them.

 

Inside the centre they have a lovely calming reptile room, soft play area, sensory room, kitchen, lots of rooms and spaces for groups/clubs. I even got to see Neeraj’s office and met quite a few staff members who were all really nice.

 

I really enjoyed my visit to the centre and seeing the vast amount of services available to individuals like myself as there is nothing available in my area in forms of support or opportunities like there is at the Daisy chain Centre but I was pleased to be informed that in the future the daisy chain Charity will be offering some support in my region Bradford which is amazing has I live approximately 80 miles away.

 

Neeraj and all the team made me feel very welcome and his passion for helping autistic and neurodivergent individuals is amazing.

 

By Charlie Conway



Wishing you a Happy Birthday Charlie, from everyone at Anna Kennedy Online!

Newhaven's King's Park Campus Hosts First Autism's Got Talent Show

 
Last Week Anna was invited to Newhaven’s King’s Park Campus for their first school Autism’s got Talent. Families came together to support 15 autistic performers from 4 local schools.
 
 
There were singers, dancers, a keyboard player, drummer, reciting from the Koran and even a dead weight lifting act!
 
 
The first performer we were honoured to listen to the talented Ollie Kelly who recently has graduated from the Brit School and is going to study jazz at Trinity Laban next year. Ollie plays in a number of bands including Ramfunk, Xanadu, Flytrap and The Youthsayers.
 
 
 
The last act was Samir. Samir was representing the Tramshed. 
Tramshed are a performing arts group that provide programmes for young people and adults with learning differences. Anna was asked to give certificates and trophies to all the performers alongside the Headteacher.
 
 
Anna has been invited back next year.

The atmosphere was electric and Anna was emailed by Kathy Mackinnon the Pastoral HLTA who coordinated the event that students enjoyed the evening so much they were singing around the school the following day.

Olivia’s fundraiser for Anna Kennedy Online – Win a Nintendo Switch!

 

 

via JustGiving

We are thrilled to be organising a fundraiser for Anna Kennedy Online, a charity close to our hearts. With the goal of raising £500, we are excited to offer the chance to win a Nintendo Switch while supporting this important cause. Each ticket is only £5, and every contribution brings us closer to making a meaningful difference in the lives of those living with autism. Your support means the world to us and to the individuals and families who benefit from Anna Kennedy Online’s vital work. Join us in making a positive impact today!

 

Together, let’s spread hope and create opportunities for individuals with autism. Your generosity will help Anna Kennedy Online continue their invaluable efforts in providing support and resources for the autism community.

We invite you to be part of this incredible journey by purchasing a ticket or making a donation. Every little bit counts, and together we can make a big difference.

Disability Pride Month is a time of celebration, empowerment, and advocacy for the rights and achievements of people with disabilities. It’s a month dedicated to raising awareness, challenging stigma, and promoting inclusivity in all aspects of society.

Our Includability Ambassadors explore the essence of Disability Pride Month, its significance, and how businesses can play a crucial role in fostering a disability-friendly workplace culture.

Discover how Includability can support your organisation in embracing diversity and accessibility.

What is Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month is an annual observance held in July to celebrate the diversity and resilience of people with disabilities.

It’s a time to recognise the contributions and achievements of individuals with disabilities, while also acknowledging the ongoing struggles and barriers they face in society. Disability Pride Month seeks to promote acceptance, inclusion, and equal opportunities for people of all abilities.

Disability Pride Month originated in the United States, where in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) law was passed to prevent people with disabilities being discriminated against.

Up until this point, people with disabilities did not have the protection of law when they were treated equally and didn’t have access to many of the same opportunities.

In the UK, Northern Ireland first introduced protections through legislation with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, with England, Scotland and Wales passing a similar law in 2002 called the Disability Discrimination Act, later replaced by the Equality Act in 2010.

Why do we celebrate Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month is observed as both a celebration and a call to action. It’s a time to celebrate the unique identities and experiences of people with disabilities, fostering a sense of pride and empowerment within the community.

The first Disability Pride Parade in the UK was held in Belfast in 2014 and serves as an opportunity to challenge stigma, raise awareness about the issues facing people with disabilities, and advocate for greater accessibility and inclusion in all aspects of society.

Disability Pride started as a celebration day marking the anniversaries of the introduced laws for respective countries. Over time, Disability Pride has evolved from a day of celebration to a month-long event.

When is Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month takes place annually in July, with events and activities held throughout the month to celebrate and promote disability pride. It’s a time for individuals, organisations, and communities to come together in solidarity and support of people with disabilities, amplifying their voices and advocating for positive change.

What is the theme for Disability Pride Month 2024?

This year’s theme is ‘I want a life like yours’ – this theme comes from The Arc’s National Council of Self-Advocates. It reflects the disability community’s aspirations for life experiences that they are too often denied.

This year, we can expect people with disabilities to share their diverse stories of success as students, employees, leaders, and engaged members of their communities and families, when barriers are removed.

Why is talking about Accessibility in the Workplace so important?

Accessibility in the workplace is crucial for ensuring equal opportunities and inclusion for people with disabilities.

By addressing accessibility barriers and implementing inclusive policies and practices, businesses can create a supportive environment where all employees can thrive. Talking about accessibility in the workplace helps raise awareness, identify areas for improvement, and promote a culture of inclusivity and accommodation.

“Disability Pride Month is about celebrating diversity, being unapologetically yourself as a disabled person (without masking or hiding) and giving companies the opportunity to change the conversation and highlight ways to better understand and support colleagues.

“This is a great time to start conversations and educate yourselves. It can be as simple as listening to a podcast, watching a video or attending a webinar through to hosting disability inclusion training and workshops. It’s a perfect opportunity to speak and gain insight from the disabled community so you can truly understand what it is to be an ally.

“Sadly, the fact remains that whilst disabled people make up the biggest minority group in the world, they are still, by far, the most underrepresented in the workforce. This is in spite of more than 90% of companies having a DEI initiative as within that only 4% focus on disability so use this month to change this, but remember we aren’t just disabled for a month!

Don’t do a big initiative and campaign throughout the month and then stop, you must continue with your inclusion journey, otherwise it’s just tokenism.”

Kaye Moors, Managing Director, DRUM Studios

Why is talking about Autism in the Workplace so important?

Discussing autism in the workplace is crucial because it promotes a more inclusive, understanding, and supportive environment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Raising awareness and fostering acceptance can help dismantle misconceptions, reduce stigma, and highlight the unique strengths and perspectives that autistic employees bring to the table. Addressing the specific needs and accommodations required for those who require it, businesses can create a more diverse and innovative workforce, ultimately enhancing productivity and positive workplace culture.

“Disabilities like autism are not always visible so it can sometimes be hard to tell that someone is disabled. Many individuals with autism look upon it as something positive and that gives them, “autism superpowers”. Therefore, always focus on the things that the person can do, rather than what they can’t do. Also, remember that everyone who has a disability is unique and will have different traits.”

Alex Manners, Neurodiversity & Autism Speaker and Author

“Autism Awareness and Acceptance provides the knowledge and understanding necessary to recognise the diversity and complexity of autism , including its many varied strengths and challenges. 

“Awareness and Acceptance can instigate positive change, prompt conversations, challenges stereotypes, and hopefully will promote empathy and understanding which will create further opportunities for autistic children and adults.”

Anna Kennedy OBE, Chairperson, AnnaKennedyOnline

Why is talking about Deaf/Hard of Hearing Inclusion in the Workplace so important?

Addressing Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HoH) inclusion in the workplace is vital for fostering an equitable and accessible environment for all employees.

This focus on inclusion not only benefits the individuals directly affected but also enriches the workplace with diverse perspectives and skills, driving innovation and enhancing team dynamics. Promoting D/HoH inclusion is a critical step towards building a truly inclusive and supportive workplace for everyone.

“The key message in my line of work would be that as per the theme for this year ‘I want a life like yours’ that all D/deaf/Hard of Hearing people should be treated the same as everyone else; with the same fairness, respect, accessibility and inclusion to go about their everyday lives without prejudice, oppression, discrimination and to be given the same opportunities than their hearing friends, families and colleagues.”

Emm Sharpe, Director of Study Sharpe

How can businesses foster a Disability Friendly workplace culture?

Businesses can foster a disability-friendly workplace culture by prioritising accessibility, inclusion, and accommodation for employees with disabilities. This includes providing accessible facilities, technology, and resources, as well as offering training and education on disability awareness and inclusion.

Here are our Ambassadors’ top tips for businesses setting out to improve their workplace culture –

Accessibility

“The best way to prioritise accessibility all year round is to change your mindset. Accessibility is a journey, not a destination. Embrace unlearning everything you thought you knew about digital and go back to the main point in question, your users.

“Start small and focus on one thing that you can do better each month and then repeat until accessibility is so ingrained in your rationale that you always look at the bigger picture. Trust me, these small steps take you on a journey that puts accessibility front and centre of your DEI initiatives. Provide ongoing training to developers, designers, and content creators on accessibility standards and best practices, to ensure that accessibility is considered from the outset of digital design and development projects, rather than being an afterthought. And then welcome feedback to encourage users with disabilities to identify issues.”

Kaye Moors, Managing Director, DRUM Studios

Autism Awareness

“Plan autism awareness sessions and promote autism via your social media channels all year round. Whilst it is fantastic to do this during “Autism Acceptance Month” or “Disability Pride Month”, plan things for other times in the year. By keeping this in mind, autism will be at the forefront of people’s minds all year round.”

Alex Manners, Neurodiversity & Autism Speaker and Author

D/HoH

“If we consider the current legislation in place, namely, The BSL Act 2022, there is now a real responsibility for businesses, charities and organisations across the UK to deep dive into their website accessibility, their policies and practice to adopt more Deaf friendly procedures and practices, and to allocate essential budgetary funding to provide staff teams with quality Deaf Awareness training.  There has never been a better time to really examine how to service the needs fully of the Deaf Community and especially British Sign Language users.”

Emm Sharpe, Director of Study Sharpe 

By creating a supportive and inclusive environment, businesses can attract and retain diverse talent, enhance employee morale and productivity, and contribute to a more equitable society.

How Includability can help your organisation during Disability Pride Month?

Includability offers a range of resources, and support to help organisations foster a disability-friendly workplace culture during Disability Pride Month and beyond. From accessibility audits to awareness training and inclusive policy development, Includability can help your organisation create an environment where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported.

Contact us today to learn more about how Includability can assist your organisation in embracing diversity and accessibility and make Disability Pride Month a time of meaningful progress and celebration.

https://www.weareincludability.co.uk/membership/what-makes-includability-the-standard

This is an ongoing article and open to expansion. There are many tips that businesses can benefit from which you may be able to help with. If you have expertise in any area of disability in the workplace, please contact us and add your brilliant insights. communications@includability.co.uk

Autism Awareness and Acceptance provides the knowledge and understanding necessary to recognise the diversity and complexity of autism , including its many varied strengths and challenges.

“Awareness and Acceptance can instigate positive change, prompt conversations, challenges stereotypes, and hopefully will promote empathy and understanding which will create further opportunities for autistic children and adults.”

Anna Kennedy OBE, Chairperson, AnnaKennedyOnline

Autism Show – June 2024

All Things Autism in Essex returned for it’s June edition, with Euro’s in full swing, Olympics coming up and the start of the summer season. Aston and regular contributor Anna Kennedy OBE spoke about how look after someone with autism throughout the summer and also spoke to amazing guests as well.

Another busy show for Aston and I ‘Talking All things Autism’ On Gateway Radio for the month of June.

Our guests this month were Kelsey McInearney , Kian Butler and Claire Prosser.

Kelsey works as a nurse and absolutely loves her job. She has also started a new business called ‘Calm Crate’ 

It took a long time for her autism and ADHD diagnosis to be discovered and now she finally has the correct diagnosis she is able to live her life with a new understanding of herself and the world around her.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCalmCrate?dd_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.co.uk%2F

Our second guest Kian is a 22 year old autistic creator with a deep passion for music and entertainment. Since performing on Autism’s got Talent , he has had the privilege to be invited to work on Junior Eurovision France 2023 and Eurovision Sweden in 2024. 

Kian was excited to hear his new cover version of the winning song from Eurovision this year aired on Gateway 97.8 before his interview with Aston and I.

Our third guest was Claire Prosser the founder of Spectropolis. She is is also an educational psychologist , working in Wales and has an autistic son. She was awarded a British Empire Medal on the Queens Honours List for her work supporting the Autistic Community.

Spectropolis

Aston and I also spoke about our up coming Sky Dive in July with Lisa Robins and Steven Smith. 

Here is the link if you would like to sponsor us for AnnaKennedyOnline

Another exciting announcement is that Aston will join Philip Barnett as MC for Autism’s got Talent this year on October 12th at Mermaid Theatre.

All performers will be announced very soon and tickets are now on sale via our charity website www.annakennedyonine.com

Thank you once again to Gateway Radio for giving us the opportunity to talk ‘All things Autism in Essex’

Keep well everyone and looking forward to our show in July!!

Sending positive vibes.

Anna Kennedy OBE”

All Things Autism in Essex will return soon.

Marcus Mason-Williams our AnnaKennedyonline First Steps Entrepeneur winner is going from strength to strength. 

Marcus share’s his second new book launch which is happening today. Congratulations Marcus we are all very proud of you!

Marcus Mason-Williams, a Special Olympics GB alpine skier, is also an author and illustrator of childrens stories.

Through his selection as a SmallBizz100 enterprise and his connections with Small Business Britain and Lloyds Banking Group, who are promoting disabled-led small businesses, he was introduced to a fellow disabled business owner and book editor and publisher, Jen Parker of Fuzzy Flamingo.

Marcus wrote, illustrated and published his first childrens story, Zooland A Sign of Hope in December 2022.  This was a story that showed that when you have passion, talent and a dream, anything is possible.  It features Milo – a young zebra with a passion for football and adventure – and Velma – a young girl with talent and footballing ambitions of her own. When Milo unexpectedly acquires a football and teams up with Velma, together they overcome obstacles and opposition to help a struggling England Soccer Aid football team and to realise their dreams.

Thanks to the help of Special Olympics GB Marcuss Zooland book was signed by Gareth Southgate (England football manager) and Steve Clarke (Scotland football manger) and Marcus is now in discussions with a number of football clubs about sharing the story with children supported by their charitable foundations. 

In 2023 and early 2024 he was asked by a local Midlands author to illustrate a childrens story about a young rabbit and his adventures with his local farm animals.  This is due to be published later this year. 

He has now published his second (longer) childrens story.  He again wrote the story and produced the digital illustrations.  This time the story is about two autistic characters and their unusual friends: the lives of Richard Rosemary, the son of a farmer, and Maranda, the daughter of a king, are touched by Chester, a very special horse, and Wisdom, a magical whistle-breath dragon. Will the young heroes find a way to right the wrong of a dragons capture and prevent a war between the Kingdom of Bear and the Kingdom of Dragon? Discover how Richard and Maranda harness their amazing autistic strengths and overcome lifes challenges with character and courage.  Magical powers, friendship and the realisation that autism is a strength, not a weakness, inspires our human and animal heroes to achieve the impossible.  Get ready for a fantasy adventure!

In addition to the book Marcus has produced a short teaser trailer animation, using digital software, for the book, including music and special effects.  This will be shared on social media and with a number of animation companies that are helping him.  One day Marcus wants to produce an animated movie!

The Horse and the Dragon book is available on Amazon and distributed through Ingram Spark. 

P.S. Marcus and Jen are members of the government-backed campaign called The Lilac Review, which highlights the value of disabled-led small businesses and the hurdles they face.  This is being supported by Small Business Britain and Lloyds Banking Group.

Lucy, the daughter of Andi, one of our Charity Champions, is participating in a sponsored 5K walk to raise funds for the Anna Kennedy Online charity and the Autism Allotments project, of which Anna is a patron.

Lucy has been diagnosed with autism along with other medical conditions and invisible disabilities. Despite her challenges, she has a kind-hearted nature and aims to support other children through her project.

If you are interested in sponsoring Lucy, please visit the GoFundMe page through the following link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/8k37yx-lucys-sponsored-walk

Autistics and Literal thinking – Time

Article by loveartpix

 

I wanted to create a short blog to help people understand the importance of how time keeping can really impact autistic individuals like myself. I find myself having to repeat myself over and over which can be triggering in itself. Of course i understand people are busy – unfortunately that’s the world we live in now – but i feel it’s not an excuse to not drop a short text/email which takes a minute to inform if running late.

I hope the following reiterates what I have been explaining for years to people and can possibly help others who maybe struggle and have the same issues.

For individuals on the autism spectrum, the impact of unmet promises, such as missing a scheduled call time, can be profound. This discrepancy between what was expected and what actually happens can trigger heightened levels of stress, frustration, and potentially lead to meltdowns. This reaction is often rooted in tendency towards literal thinking and a strong reliance on routines and predictability.

Acknowledgement or confirmation, through a simple text or email, is just as crucial for autistic individuals. The lack of communication regarding delays or changes in plans can also lead to heightened stress and frustration and trigger meltdowns.

For someone with autism, the ability to comprehend and anticipate social cues and changes can be really challenging. Therefore, when a promised action – like receiving a call at a specific time – is not fulfilled, it can cause massive distress. This distress may stem from a hyper focussed expectation that the promised event will occur precisely as stated, highlighting the importance of consistency and clear communication in interactions with autistic individuals.

The concept of time holds a major significance for many autistic individuals. Strict adherence to schedules and routines can sometimes become a focal point, with individuals fixating on specific times and events. This hyperfocus on time management can impact daily functioning, attention span, and ability to transition between tasks smoothly.

Repeated disappointments in time management, especially if they lead to frequent meltdowns, can have lasting effects on an individual with autism. These ongoing letdowns can result in feelings of distress, helplessness, and a sense of being misunderstood or disregarded. Over time, these experiences could potentially contribute to the development of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), particularly if they struggle with regulating emotions and coping with daily stressors.

The compounded impact of missed expectations and stress related to time management can be particularly challenging for autistic individuals due to their unique communication and sensory processing differences. The inherent difficulties they face in understanding and engaging in social interactions can be further exacerbated by disruptions in routines or unmet expectations regarding time. This combination of factors can make it harder for autistic individuals to manage and recover from such experiences, potentially leading to more intense emotional responses and increased vulnerability to conditions like CPTSD.

ART; Chronicles of Order

Vulnerable amongst a whirlwind of time and numbers showing how patterns and routines reign supreme.

In my vulnerable state I wanted to show the raw honesty and nature of how the autism experience is for me. Surrounded by chaotic numbers and clocks looking trapped, liberated and controlled by time itself.

Through chaos and order I hoped to show the unique perspective of the world and how structure, focus and time play such an important role.

 

 

Dez (loveartpix) was one of our Charity Autism Hero Awards Winners

Nominate your Autism Hero for 2025

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Mental Health Awareness Week – an article by Kieron Lee

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I am writing this article for Anna Kennedy Online, to raise the much-needed awareness for Mental Health, this week, and every week. It is no secret that I have a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD as well as a Mixed Anxiety and Depressive disorder. You can imagine, that managing all of these is extremely difficult.

 

For years I have struggled with severe mental health issues; in 2018 I attempted suicide by taking an overdose, there have been similar events like this before. At the time I felt empty yet full of emotions that I just could not bear, I would describe autism and emotions like “Superman and Kryptonite;” emotions are my Kryptonite. I often question and have never quite understood the reasoning behind my sometimes-erratic response to events that have occurred throughout my life.

 

The way I feel is often overwhelming, I have strong feelings that lead to me being very emotional, almost like an empath is how I would describe it. Sometimes the world just gets too much, and I just need to come off it for a bit.

 

In times when I feel so low, I have my mother, who has honestly been my biggest supporter, critique, best friend, and rock that constantly holds me to the ground when I lose a sense of gravity. I have a lot of friends and even family that weren’t/are not lucky enough to have the relationship with their mum that I do with mine, and I will forever be so lucky for that.

 

Weeks when I do not feel so great you best believe I am able to write the best lyrical content, the ability to do that makes me feel so much lighter. I often “meditate” with the piano and a beautiful chord progression which is so soothing for the mind. Also, getting stuck into coursework really helps! But it is honestly, the love for music and the people that I am so lucky to have around me that keeps me strong.

 

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I met the wonderful Anna and team back in 2016 whilst we were working on our superb charity album “Building Bridges”, which was a significant and memorable time in my life. Since then, I have continued to support and work with the charity.

 

Anna and all the team have played a huge part in shaping the person I have become today, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me through Anna Kennedy Online, and their amazing work and I feel so proud to be a part of the AKO family. I am aware of the progress and huge difference that I have made.

 

If I can do it, you can too! Never give up. 

I would like to encourage everyone to spread love and positivity in a world that really needs it. Especially right now. I also ask that you try to be the best advocate for mental health that you possibly can be. Be super thankful for your neighbours, thankful for your friends and family. Most importantly be thankful for yourself and know that you have huge value. Try to appreciate the little things in life as much as you can even when you feel like it is impossible. Stay strong. Reach out when you need it. You are not alone.

 

For more information on mental health services, please visit: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/

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AKO Receives Top Honours at Metropolitan Police Awards Ceremony

Anna Kennedy Online has won the Metropolitan Police Community Contribution Award and the Overall Winner of the Inclusion Diversity Equality Awards for 2024 !
Anna Kennedy, her husband Sean Kennedy and Detective Superintendent Dion Brown were invited on stage to receive this prestigious award.
Safe to say it was unexpected especially after reading and hearing about all the fantastic work being done by so many dedicated people across the organisation.
Well Done to all nominees.
The event took place at The Magic Circle London.
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