Wear it Blue is a club at GDS that funds local services for kids who have autism and their families. Headed by Frankie Galli, Eleanor Wartell, Zoe Dockser, Drew Morris, and Owen Killy, the club raises money to provide autistic kids and families with necessary therapy and focuses on raising awareness and educating the public on autism.
Originally founded by Frankie Galli’s oldest sister, Bella Galli, a few years ago, Wear it Blue partners with a school targeted specifically for children with autism called Kennedy Krieger Institute. Frankie and Bella’s sister, Camille Galli, is seventeen years old and has autism, inspiring them to dedicate their time to Wear It Blue’s mission. “There is a spectrum for autism. She prefers to not use to word low-functioning but Camille has severe autism and is not verble. She has an aid, which is a teacher that comes around with her everywhere.” said Frankie. The group’s members often visit Kennedy Krieger to interact with and help out the autistic students. “We had a bake sale and a fashion show and sold bracelets and key chains! We also did a day where we would ‘wear it blue’,” said Frankie, “After Bella graduated high school and went to college, I took over at GDS because I knew it had been something I had always wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with my sister and the other kids at Kennedy Krieger.”
Their goal is to minimize the social differences between the students at Kennedy Krieger and the students at GDS. “These kids don’t want to be talked down to and that is something I really had to work on. Just act like you are talking to a regular kid.” stated Frankie. Autism is a mental condition that is characterized by having difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people, as well as in using language and abstract concepts. “Autism is something that is very confusing for me, to be perfectly honest, I know I should be the one who knows it but with my understanding it is something where your brain is sending your body signals and your body is not receiving those signals,” said Frankie, “With Camille, sometimes she cries but she’s like ‘I was totally fine, I have no idea why I cried’ and it is something where the connections are just not being made.” As a result of this, relationships and friendships are especially difficult for autistic children, which is why the members of Wear it Blue help to form and build these relationships with patience, guidance, and kindness.
For the past two years, Wear it Blue has made a significant difference in the students lives at Kennedy Krieger when they put together a prom for the students. When Bella was going to her junior prom a few years ago, Frankie’s whole family was taking pictures and enjoying the occasion when Camille asked why she was not able to go to prom. Pulling Frankie aside, her parents explained that Kennedy Krieger did not have a prom for the students. “My parents told me and it kinda just broke my heart. I was really upset and this moment really stuck with me. I was talking to my mom and we came up with the idea to have a prom for the kids,” said Frankie.
Conducting a prom became the club’s focus and after almost 10 visits to Kennedy Krieger, the members of Wear It Blue bonded with the students and raised enough money to have a successful prom that fitted the needs and wants of the students. The students at Kennedy Krieger were all dressed up and were able to enjoy a special, memorable night. “Our number one priority is throwing another prom just because that was something that I think really made the students happy and in the long run our number one goal is to just have a great time with the students of Kennedy Krieger,” said Eleanor Wartell, who became a co-head of the club after connecting with the kids at Kennedy Krieger. “In seventh grade, I think everyone just wanted to support Frankie and this was just such a big part of her, so a lot of us just signed up for Wear It Blue to support her and I fell in love with the kids at Kennedy Krieger so when we got to the high school I automatically asked Frankie how I could be involved,” explained Eleanor, “I have a cousin with autism so it hit home with me personally but it was also just something I loved doing.”
As for the future, the club is trying to continue to spread awareness and is in the process of organizing an event at GDS to raise money and educate more people about autism. The club also plans to increase the amount of visits to Kennedy Krieger and even get the students to come to GDS for fun activities. If you are interested in joining, Wear It Blue meets every week on Thursdays during mini-break in the morning from 10:30 to 10:45 in room 102!
By: Emma Leary and Annalise Myre