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CROWN: April 2021 - Anthony Ianni tailors "Relentless Tour" To Needs of Schools During The COVID-19 Pandemic, Promotes #CelebrateDifferences Initiative for Autism Acceptance Month
Anthony Ianni's Relentless Tour typically travels to schools and performs in-person assemblies that promote eradicating bullying. But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he has had to think of new and creative ways to interact with students.
"I've had to make my presentations virtual for schools and businesses/organizations," said Anthony. "I also reached out to all the schools I worked with in the last year and sent 1-2-minute-videos about staying positive, continuing to support each other during tough times, that no obstacle is too great to overcome in life, and that we will overcome this pandemic."
A driving force behind Anthony's Relentless Tour program is how he overcame bullying and adversity in his childhood after he was diagnosed at age 4 with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). Despite being told he would never graduate or play sports, he went on to graduate from Michigan State University. He also became the first NCAA Division 1 athlete with autism, playing basketball under Coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State University.
Anthony is a member of the Autism Society of America's Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism and is a part of the organization's #CelebrateDifferences initiative, which aims to champion those affected by autism to live full, quality lives through connection and acceptance. On April 1, Anthony took part in a panel discussion about celebrating April as Autism Acceptance Month alongside autistic self-advocates Chloe Rothschild and Kris Guin. This panel discussion promoted the use of the term Autism Acceptance Month instead of Autism Awareness Month to reflect the need for inclusion of all members of the Autism community.
While the last year may have put a temporary halt to his in-person assemblies, Anthony remains optimistic about the future. "Come Fall 2021, I'm going all out every time I present, and I'm looking forward to traveling and interacting with the live crowds again."