DURHAM schoolboy Ezra Hetherington has already raised hundreds of pounds in support of the North East Autism Society, by organising a sponsored litter pick in his local community. 

The six-year-old, from Durham, will be walking at least two miles every day throughout Autism Acceptance Week (March 28th - April 3rd). Joined by his family - and dog Betsy - Ezra will pick up litter, and friends, family and local people have sponsored him generously for his efforts.

Ezra was diagnosed as autistic in March 2022 and is currently on a reduced school timetable while they await his support worker's start date, mum Kelly explains.

The family were made aware of the North East Autism Society by a One Point family worker, and Kelly says they were inspired to fundraise this Autism Acceptance Week because they wanted to give back to a charity that supports local families in a similar situation to themselves.

"We wanted to do something for a local autism charity," Kelly says. "We have found the family resources section of the NEAS website really helpful – especially for sharing information with teachers and family members who are anxious about how to help Ezra. 

Ezra’s diagnosis is really new and at the moment, we are trying to build Ezra’s confidence up at home but hopefully he can access services such as ‘short breaks’ in the future to help him socialise and make friends.

"I like that NEAS works with schools as Ezra has found the school environment especially difficult – it is noisy, it is busy, it is social and it is totally overwhelming."

In the space of just a few days, Ezra has already far surpassed his fundraising goal of £50, with the total now sitting at more than 12 times that amount. 

Kelly adds: "We like walking our dog so thought we could do something nice for our community while we are walking. This has allowed us to spread awareness as people always stop to say thank you when they see us."

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