This guest post is by Janette Bundic, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and is attending British Columbia Institute of Technology. Janette is applying for the Spring 2020 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference started by me, Kerry Magro. I was nonverbal till 2.5 and diagnosed with autism at 4 and you can read more about my organization here. Can I ask for a favor? I’m trying to make this nonprofit self-sufficient so I can make this my full-time job supporting the special needs community and would appreciate you taking a minute before reading on to watch this video below and subscribing to our Youtube page here to get to learn more about the work we do in the community.

I hope you can support my nonprofit like I’m trying to support these students with scholarship aid for college. Learn more on how you can help our cause with a small donation (just asking for $3 today, equal to your daily cup of coffee) here.

As I burrow into my blanket, it feels like a familiar warm hug. A calm settles over me as the soft notes from my music box flow through the room, mixing harmoniously with the soothing sound of raindrops on the roof. My bedroom is my living sanctuary where I can live, breathe, and create comfortably.

I realized in that moment, on a rainy day in Vancouver tucked away in my bedroom, that I needed light to flourish. Several years ago, I went through a traumatic experience that nearly broke me. To help me make it through, I would often go in my bedroom and brainstorm different ways to create art projects. Creating heals me to the point of me wanting to heal others. When I started to draw, a light started to open up. I share my story about how I found my light in the hope that I can help others find theirs.

I have been bullied my entire life for being different. I have a learning disability in reading and math. I have slow processing speed for written output and sometimes it is hard to understand when the teacher talks too fast. I also struggle with reading comprehension and require tutors to read material aloud and to help with note-taking. Paraphrasing material from my tutors helps me as well. When I had an aid for extra help at school, people thought it was abnormal so they made fun of me for it. It advanced to the point where I stopped using the help due to the intense bullying so instead I only received help in the resource centre and no longer in the classroom. Throughout managing these challenges, I also have been battling anxiety and depression since I was a child. When I’m depressed, it is difficult to do the things that I love. It can overtake me. Then in more recent years, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects social interaction and communication. It explained much of what I have been going through. I experience daily challenges. I had a hard time giving eye contact until I did eye therapy, but now sometimes I give too much. I had a hard time concentrating on homework when there was background noise, but even after ear therapy I still struggle with I sense others don’t want to be around me. Knowing this new label has been helpful and I wish that I had known earlier. Knowledge is empowering and I could have had the opportunity to access the help and resources I needed years ago, had I known.

This is what drove me to launch Follow your Hope. My mental health challenges have enveloped me in darkness at times. I had to find my light to make it through. I am passionate about sharing my story to help others who are struggling realize that they are not alone and that they can find their light too. Follow your Hope is a community initiative designed to raise awareness for mental health through the medium of art. Art helps me come out of my box, create and learn more about myself and the world. My first initiative was “I needed light.” This short video is about my pain. By finding comfort in art, I was able to move through my pain. Art gave me light. After I experienced a traumatic event, I spent nearly all of my time in my room. When I found my light, there was a change in not only my outer appearance but also in my overall soul as a person. Light freed me, along with my paintings. This inspired me to film “I needed light.”

Light freed me. I needed closure and painting brought me that closure. Painting was the ultimate light that I needed. We are not alone, everything around us emits energy towards us. That energy comes to tell us to pursue our passions. My passion in life is to give people their ultimate light by raising awareness about mental health through art. My plan at the moment is to make more videos about mental health by sharing my struggle and journey. I’m currently working on a video that’s about my challenges with autism. I am also enrolled in Graphic and Design at the British Columbia Institute of Technology to gain more knowledge for designing my future videos and marketing them to help others overcome their challenges. I have learned that finding your light starts with you. Follow your hope.

Follow my journey on Facebook, my Facebook Fan Page, & Instagram!

My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.