In October 2019, Alex Kowal (age 37), the uncle of one of our pupils completed a 20 mile charity walk across Leicestershire with a difference.
Alex said, ‘My nephew was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 3. When the family was told, we were upset and wondered what we could do to help him. Ever since my nephew has attended Ashmount Special School in Loughborough, he has been a completely different child. He is more open and there is a smile on his face every time I see him.’
‘To thank his school and to raise awareness of autism, I decided to set myself the challenge of walking 20 miles from my home in Wigston to Ashmount School in Loughborough without the aid of many of my senses.’
Alex was blindfolded and wore ear defenders muffling out all background sounds, and was unable to speak for the whole duration of the walk.
Alex said, ‘Some people with autism can have sensitive senses that can cause them to have an outburst, so I wanted to have my sight and hearing taken away and refrained from talking throughout the walk.’
Family and friends were allocated one mile legs of the journey each in relay and guided Alex by linking arms with him and using body sign language to communicate with him.
Alex had been made aware of the start and finish points of the route but was not told of the route or which volunteers were helping him at any particular time.
Alex completed his journey in 8 hours and 45mins, a full 2 hours ahead of the expected time.
Ashmount Headteacher David Deacon said, ‘We are incredibly proud of Alex for setting himself such an ambitious challenge and for completing it in such a good time. We would like to thank Alex and all of the friends and family members who supported him on his journey. The funds raised will make a huge difference to the pupils who attend Ashmount School and will allow the National Autistic Society to provide specialist autism services to an even wider group of autistic people, parents, carers and professionals.’
The funds raised by the Alex will be shared equally between Ashmount Special School and the National Autistic Society. To date, Alex has raised almost £1,000 from the walk.
(Pictured is Alex Kowal in front of Ashmount School)