‘Community is really important’

Hun School students create autism nonprofit

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Two students at the Hun School of Princeton created an Autism Awareness Alliance nonprofit in efforts to celebrate and embrace neurodiversity.

On Saturday April 27, Sean X. and Tom C., hosted “Beyond the Spectrum,” an all-day community event that celebrates Autism Awareness Month. The event was held in downtown Princeton, between the Dinky Bar and McCarter Theatre with over 150 local families with children on the spectrum in attendance. The fun-filled celebration kicked off with a keynote speech from Mayor Mark Freda followed by endless activities including musical performances, lion dancing, carnival games, and prizes, according to a press release through the school.

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As one of the leaders of the Autism Awareness Alliance, Sean’s goal in hosting this event was to celebrate and embrace neurodiversity within the Mercer County community.

“We aim to enrich the lives of children with autism by fostering awareness and building meaningful interactions between these children and other community members. We also hope to help families find additional resources,” he said.

Sean and Tom established the Autism Awareness Alliance in the summer of 2023 and soon after partnered with the Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation. After many weekends spent volunteering at the hospital, Sean and Tom decided that they wanted to begin their fundraising efforts. Over the summer, they raised $7,000 for the foundation by attending local farmers markets and other community events in Mercer County. Sean and Tom hope to raise $15,000 by the end of this year. 

“Community is really important to both Sean and me,” Tom said. “And community means building connections with everyone despite our differences and coming together to support each other. We believe that our differences are what make us special to society; we are all human yet we all see the world so differently and that is why we are choosing to put so much of our time and effort into fundraising and creating a network of support for local families with children on the spectrum.”

Tom and Sean, who are part of the Class of 2026, are already busy planning next year’s Autism Awareness Month celebration and are eager to find ways to continue to engage the local community as well as the Hun community. 

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