PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — April is Autism Awareness Month. This Friday, we’re shining a light on a 12-year-old boy who has a creative way of encouraging the community to celebrate our differences.
Every year, James Dobson Elementary School pays a graphic artist to design T-shirts so they can sell them to raise money for autism. But this year, they found a talented artist within the student body.READ MORE: Philadelphia School District Students, Staff To Resume Masking As COVID Cases Continue To Rise In City
Sixth-grader Tawanne Williams uses art to express himself.
“It was in like, the second grade where I was having trouble because like, I realized I had autism,” Tawanne said.
Tawanne is one of 18 students in Dobson’s autism support program.
He believes all children can get along.
This beautiful drawing highlights that.
“He drew the picture initially for our kindergarten open house and it went from that to putting it on a T-shirt, because it did such a great job of showing inclusion with all the kids at a school,” said Alice Antrim, an autistic support program teacher.READ MORE: West Philly Double Shooting Leaves 30-Year-Old Man Dead, Teen Hospitalized: Police
The school is selling the T-shirts on its website for $15.
“A lot of people, especially around here, they think autism means like, like, somebody’s slow,” Tawanne said, “but actually, it means that somebody — autistic people’s brains work different than non-autistics.”
All proceeds from the sale of the shirts go to the autistic support programs so they can buy sensory toys.
Tawanne even made a commercial.
“The fact that he used his design to bring awareness to autism acceptance month is just, is just wonderful,” said Khloe Williams-Lawani, principal at James Dobson Elementary School.
When Tawanne’s not making T-shirt designs, he’s making animations for his YouTube channel. His dream is to become an animator, and he’s well on his way.
“I always said this. Drawings don’t have to be like, fancy or complex to tell a story,” Tawanne said.MORE NEWS: Police Investigating Series Of Gunpoint Robberies In Center City, West Philadelphia
The school is hoping to sell about 100 T-shirts. The deadline to buy them is Monday.