Keeping active for autism
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Founder of a school and charity for austism
Anna’s two sons, Patrick, 25 and Angelo, 22, were both diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders as young children. The severity of their conditions meant that they were turned away from 26 local mainstream schools, as they couldn’t cater for their individual needs. Both boys were finally offered just five hours of home tuition per week.
Dance makes you feel different: like a different person; like I’m not AnnaAnna Kennedy
Anna decided something had to be done for her boys, and with the help of her husband Sean, took on the challenge of setting up a school themselves. They relentlessly fundraised and re-mortgaged their home to raise the £627,000 needed, and in 1999 The Hillingdon Manor School finally opened its doors. Starting out with 19 pupils the school now teaches 150, and is the largest school of its kind for autistic children in Europe.
Anna has since set up another specialist school, an autism awareness charity and a respite home for adults. She provided training for the NSPCC and Childline and also runs various other fundraising and awareness events throughout the year.
A self-confessed Strictly obsessive, Anna’s a big fan of dance, and enjoys tap dancing classes when her schedule allows, which she describes as her 'autism-free zone'. Upon recently returning to a class, she compared herself to a battery that had been recharged for the first time! We wonder how she’ll feel after her Strictly experience: fully recharged or completely exhausted? Either way, she’s in for a fabulous time - and boy, does she deserve it!