News & Events

The Story Behind the Walk for Autism Cover Star

Posted on 14th February 2020

If you’ve seen a Walk for Autism flyer, or received a walkers Essential Guide as part of your pack in the post, chances are you’ve seen Amanda Harris on the cover.

Amanda Harris’ iconic photo posted on Facebook during the Walk for Autism 2019 campaign features her standing with her back to the camera, raising her hands in a heart symbol at sunset while taking part in the fundraising challenge. We loved her image so much and we are really grateful that she allowed us to use it on our promotions for Walk for Autism 2020.

One Instagram inspirational quote that has always resonated is that: “There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason they’re the way they are.” The quote is a stand against people being judgemental, but it is also a call to be interested in others and to give them a voice. That’s why we were keen to interview Amanda and share her story with you.

You first took part in Walk for Autism in 2019 and have chosen to step up to the challenge again this year, what inspired you? "I decided to take part as I believe there needs to be more awareness of Autism and less negativity surrounding it. I have 2 Autistic boys, aged 10 and 14 - both Autistic but both very different! I have run an online support group for 7 years now supporting families through their journeys from referral to diagnosis and beyond! I do this free of charge and decided to start this due to the lack of support given from professionals once diagnosis is made. I also used to run a Minecraft server for Autistic children around the world. My sons and the children and adults I have met through the years running both the support group and Minecraft server are what inspire me to take part in walk for Autism."

How did you find the challenge? "When I signed up for Walk for Autism I chose to do 10,000 extra steps a day on top of what I do daily. I also chose to walk around wearing the T-shirt as I believe this is the best way to spread awareness. For me this is a big challenge in itself as I suffer with fibromyalgia and M.E so walking those extra steps for 8 days straight is painful and tiring but so, so worth it!

The best part of Walk for Autism is seeing how proud my children are of me and spreading the awareness to people that may not know or understand much about it."

We loved your photo so much when you posted it on social media, we asked if we could use it to help promote Walk for Autism this year. Please can you tell us more about where it was taken? "The photo was taken at Meon shore. It is on the south coast at the mouth of Southampton harbour overlooking Calshot and the Isle of Wight. This seemed the best place to take this kind of photo as its where my children love to go. It is their calming place, but also a place where they can be free and enjoy being their quirky selves."

What is your favourite way/place to get your steps in? "Definitely, without a doubt, it has to be exploring the countryside where I am lucky enough to live and, of course, a walk along the beach."

Thank you for signing up to support Walk for Autism again this year - what are your plans for Walk for Autism 2020? "Last year my daughter Megan (now 8) begged me to sign her up for Walk for Autism. She did some of the walking with me last year and this year she has been signed up and has her own sponsorship page running. Megan said “I want to do Walk for Autism for my brothers because they are awesome and I love them so much.” So this year Megan and I will be out walking together spreading awareness."

What would you say to someone who was thinking of taking part, but hadn’t signed up yet?

"Not only do you get to explore and see some beautiful sights but you get to keep fit! Most importantly think of the awareness you are spreading for all those awesome children and adults out there who are Autistic. Keeping fit, raising awareness and raising money for a good cause what better way to start Autism awareness month! Challenge yourself! You won’t regret it!"