MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Bring out your inner awesome, as April is Autism Awareness Month.
A new local nonprofit called the Ausome Foundation provides art and music therapy resources to help children on the spectrum shine.
CBS4 spotlights two-star students designing a shoe just for you through being awesome.
Ten-year-old Antonio's passion shines through in drawing his shoe design. "This is a volcano," he said, showcasing his cool shoe design. I haven't finished it," said Antonio.
Antonio is a student at Golden Horizon Academy in Cutler Bay. It is a private school that provides comprehensive programs for children diagnosed on the spectrum.
His mother, Dominiece Cox, sees tremendous transformation in him since enrolling less than a year ago.
"He's come out of his shell," said Cox. "He's not shy. He's not the kid in the corner hiding."
On Wednesday morning, Antonio and his classmate, Juan Pablo, took time to draw and paint four shoe designs for BlanX, a South Florida shoe company.
They team up with non-profits and influencers to sell kicks to benefit specific charities.
These cool kicks, when sold online, will help the Ausome Foundation. "It makes my heart burst," said Alexandra Garcia, director of operations for the Ausome Foundation, a new non-profit providing financial assistance for low-income families with children on the spectrum.
It also provides resources for schools for music and art therapy programs.
"Amazing how music and art motivates them to be themselves and express their feelings," said Garcia.
Her family knows firsthand how music and art transform those on the spectrum. "I have three cousins with Autism," added Garcia. "It inspired us to be the change."
These programs open space for students like Antonio and Juan Pablo to communicate and shine through music or art. Both, star students, love art and finally love school.
Juan Pablo's mother said her son experienced bullying and hated going to school before coming to Golden Horizon Academy.
"He feels very empowered," said Yeseylin Ruiz through an interpreter about her son. "He feels very included."
Antonio's mom tells CBS4 her biggest fear was her son shutting down permanently. Now, he's thriving.
"Came here smiling and can't wait to get out of the car," added Cox. "It lights me up inside."
Garcia and the Ausome Foundation hope no child is left behind and all on the spectrum shine.
The town of Cutler Bay recently awarded the Ausome Foundation a grant to provide art and music therapy resources to Golden Horizon Academy.
It's a start to what Garcia hopes is to help many more families, students, and schools in South Florida.
For more information on where you can buy Juan Pablo's and Antonio's shoes, click here.
Shoes will be available for pre-sale in about two weeks.
for more features.