Stars shine at Autism’s Got Talent

A SINGER who does not talk, two former X Factor contenders and a world class acrobatic gymnast were just some of the performers who wowed audiences at Autism’s Got Talent’s first concert in the North-East.
The roadshow, which rolled into Middlesbrough to celebrate achievement, confidence and expression, was staged by autism campaigner Anna Kennedy OBE and her team together with North-East charity, Daisy Chain.

Anna Kennedy with singer Martin Finn

Anna Kennedy with singer Martin Finn

Anna, who is mum to two autistic sons, starred on the first People’s Strictly for Comic Relief after setting up a thriving school for autistic children near London.

She said she’d been determined to bring the event to her home town to show off the region’s talent.

Scott James, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and reached the bootcamp stage of the X Factor in 2009 was once a recluse but is now a public speaker and was pitch perfect when he opened the show in the Brittan Theatre at Teesside University.
Martin Finn, 24, is non-verbal with severe autism but sang his heart out on stage, able to communicate fluently and passionately through music.

Finding their voice was an emotive theme that ran through several of the performances. A dance group from the Barbara Priestman Academy in Sunderland were dressed as sad Pierrot clowns – a reference to the fact they so often have to hide their real thoughts and feelings behind a mask (pictured above). And Bekah Cook gave an incredibly moving dance performance to highlight the limited life choices open to many young people with autism.

Anna Kennedy with drummer Nick Meek

Anna Kennedy with drummer Nick Meek

The teenager, who was ranked third in the world in acrobatic gymnastics aged just 11, wore a spangly leotard but her mouth was covered in tape as her voice rang out through the auditorium urging Prime Minister David Cameron to reduce the time it can take to get a formal autism diagnosis.

She also highlighted the loneliness and bullying experienced by many youngsters before finally holding up a poster with the words “suicide was an option for me”.

Anna Kennedy with acrobatic gymnast and dancer Bekah Cook

Anna Kennedy with acrobatic gymnast and dancer Bekah Cook

Anna Kennedy with the Beverley School Choir from Middlesbrough

Anna Kennedy with the Beverley School Choir from Middlesbrough

Anna Kennedy with Ashton and Madison McAlpine

Anna Kennedy with Ashton and Madison McAlpine

As well as being thought-provoking the evening, compered by Austin Hughes from charity, Anna Kennedy Online, was incredibly uplifting and oozed positivity and in Anna’s words was “totes emosh”.

Nick Meek who’s only been playing drums for two years rocked out with his full kit on stage, Alice Jordan gave a spine-tingling performance of Etta James’ ‘At Last’, twins Ashton and Madison McAlpine performed songs from the Wizard of Oz musical Wicked and there was a rendition from the Beverley School Choir based in Middlesbrough.

TEAM: The cast of Autism's Got Talent Middlesbrough 2015

TEAM: The cast of Autism’s Got Talent Middlesbrough 2015

Anna Kennedy with singer Carl Pemberton

Anna Kennedy with singer Carl Pemberton

Singer Alice Jordan

Singer Alice Jordan

Other acts involved in the performance included the Heritage Dance Academy and Carl Pemberton, who came third on the X Factor with his brother as Journey South, playing his latest song.

Anna’s charity is dedicated to promoting the inclusion and equality of children and adults with an autism spectrum condition throughout society.

Sometimes that takes years of lobbying government and changing attitudes but, other times, all it needs is a stage, a spotlight and self belief.

CONTACT:

Anna Kennedy Online www.annakennedyonline.com 

A helpline is manned by trained call handlers between 9.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday 07710-597457.

Twitter: @AnnaKennedy1

Daisy Chain charity for children and their families with autism: Calf Fallow Farm, Fallow Lane, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, TS20 1PF Tel 01642-531248

Email: info@dailychainproject.co.uk

 

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