ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WJBK) - An Allen Park teen is working to help his friends and fellow classmates who have autism. Braden Albright, an 8th grader an Allen Park Middle School, started an Autism Awareness Club at his school.
"I have a couple friends with autism," he says. "School is hard enough but it is even worse if you are being made fun of for the way you look or the way you act when you can't help it."
The 13-year-old is using the courage of his convictions to start the club. They even hold weekly meetings.
"I think bullying is totally unacceptable and I do not tolerate it," Albright says. "I think kids that don't understand autism make fun of it. I think that is not right. That's why we created the club to bring arareness and acceptance at our school."
Last year, Braden designed and sold T-shirts to raise money for the Autism Awareness Club. This year, the captain of the football team is stepping up his game.
"Braden came back this year and said I want to go bigger than the T-shirt sale," says teacher Pam McGuire. "And he has just been running with this. Every morning he comes running in my room with a new donation or a new idea."
On April 22, Braden and his club will be hosting a walk for awareness on the Allen Park Middle School football field. Five dollars will get you fun, food, games, prizes and so much more. It's from 1-4 p.m. They're hoping for a big turnout.
"I hope they learn more about autism, just have fun, come to our event," Braden says.
"I think it is amazing. We need a hundred more Bradens in my view," McGuire says.
McGuire is the autistic spectrum disorder teacher at the school. She knows all too well the importance of Braden's efforts. Latest statistics show one in 68 children are diagnosed on the spectrum.
"We are really promoting inclusion and want all kids to feel included and to avoid bullying," she says. "My students are targets - that's a known statsitic. Anything we can do at this level is a big help."
Braden, his teachers and the principal are already seeing a difference.
"More people are going up to autistic kids, talking to them, saying hello, walking with them to classes in the hallway," Braden says. "I think it is really great."
Several local businesses have donated prizes. Allen Park police and fire will also be at the fundraiser.