Schoolboy helps raise awareness and funds for autism

24 April 2014

Six-year-old schoolboy Benjamin Holt persuaded his friends and teachers to wear their onesies to lessons – and helped raise more than £400 for charity.

The Belmont Grosvenor School pupil, who is in year 1 at the independent prep school, has an older brother, Alexander, who has autism.

Diagnosed with the condition when he was three years old, Alexander is now eight and Benjamin was keen to raise awareness about autism at his school.

So he wrote to headteacher Jane Merriman asking if she would support National Autism Awareness Day’s ‘Onesie Wednesday’.

“My brother Alexander is autistic and not everybody knows what that means. I know he is very clever,” said Benjamin, who lives with his family in Harrogate.

“Supporting Onesie Wednesday will raise money for people who are autistic but more importantly teach everybody what autism is about,” he added.

All the pupils and staff at independent prep school Belmont Grosvenor, based at Swarcliffe Hall, Birstwith, came into school wearing their onesies and donated £1 to charity.

Pupils in Benjamin’s class also did a sponsored silence to raise more money, and his mum, Lynn Westerman Holt came into school to run a morning assembly.

“This was completely Benjamin’s idea. He talked about what he wanted to say to his headteacher which he wrote down in a letter and then he requested a meeting where he presented it to her,” said Mrs Westerman Holt, who has a younger daughter Natasha who is also a pupil at Belmont Grosvenor School.

“There is a great deal of misinformation out there about autism. Furthermore, when people talk about the condition they naturally tend to focus on the difficulties people with autism face, but we want to portray the positive message that autistic people can also have great strengths and make a positive contribution to the community,” she said.

“Benjamin wants to tell people that there are great things about his brother, that he is talented, fun and loving,” she said.

‘We talked in assembly about how people with autism have often described it as living inside a glass jar – they can see what is going on in the world around them but may feel as if they cannot fully join in as they do not pick up on the intricate social rules or always understand verbal and non verbal language in the same way as ‘neurotypical’ people.

“We wanted Benjamin’s school friends to see that. With understanding and support, we can all help autistic people feel accepted and included.,” she said.

Jane Merriman, headteacher at Belmont Grosvenor School, said she had been very impressed by Benjamin’s letter and his commitment to raise awareness and money for a cause close to his heart.

Belmont Grosvenor School, an independent prep school on the outskirts of Harrogate, along with its Magic Tree Nursery, caters for children from three months to 11 years.


For more information contact Caroline Cook, PR Manager at Belmont Grosvenor School on 01423 816231/07920 091923

Benjamin Holt and his sister Natasha (front row)

With fellow pupils at Belmont Grosvenor School

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