MDCR’s Ianni to speak at free autism awareness event

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Anthony Ianni, former Michigan State University basketball player, will speak about overcoming barriers with being autistic at Baker College in Auburn Hills. The event is hosted by Baker College of Auburn Hills Disability Services, to raise awareness and support of autism in conjunction with National Autism Awareness Month, which is April. The event is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, in the Baker College of Auburn Hills Student Center. For more information click...

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Ianni brings anti-bullying message to Sterling Heights High School

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“Get out there and make a change.” That was the message former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni delivered April 1 to students at Sterling Heights High School as part of his “Relentless Tour,” which seeks to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying in schools across the nation. Ianni said he was able to overcome the challenges and obstacles in his life by focusing on three “keys to success” – motivation, hard work and support. To read the full story click...

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LCHS hosts anti-bully advocate Anthony Ianni

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Before Anthony Ianni played in two Big Ten Championships and a Final Four with Michigan State University basketball, he spent his early years coping with autism and bullies. On Tuesday, 26-year-old Ianni will share his success story and message of autism awareness with students at L’Anse Creuse High School in Harrison Township on their first day of school. L’Anse Creuse High School Principal Stephen Czapski said the first day of school was selected for Ianni’s presentation in order to get the school year off to a good start. This is the first time Ianni — who has spoken at our schools around Macomb County — has brought his presentation to the school. “I hope it will teach our students that all individuals are unique and different. As a school, we have to come together and celebrate our differences if we truly want to create an atmosphere of mutual concern within our building,” Czapski said. Ianni’s Relentless Tour is an initiative of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “Anthony focuses on bringing attention to bullying and to helping kids find the tools and strength to fight back against bullying,” Michigan Department of Civil Rights Communications Director Vicki Levengood said. Ianni will begin his presentation at L’Anse Creuse High School at 1:10 p.m., followed by a meet-and-greet with students. “He is a very positive role model that was a successful student athlete at Michigan State University,” Czapski said. Diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder on the Autism Spectrum at the age of 4, Ianni found himself the target of bullying until his freshman year in high school. Despite daunting odds presented by doctors, Ianni graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in sociology and became the first known athlete with autism to play Big Ten basketball, participating in two winning Big Ten Championships, a Big Ten Tournament Title and as member of the 2010 Final Four team. He was the recipient of the 2011 Tim Bograkos Walk On Award and won the 2012 Unsung Player Award. “My presentation is divided into two parts. The first part is called the motivational part. I talk about my story, being diagnosed with autism and overcoming challenges and obstacles I had,” Ianni said. Ianni said the second section of the presentation focuses more on anti-bullying before tying everything together during the closing. According to information from the Relentless Tour’s website, children with autism are one of the highest targeted groups to be victims of a bully, with numbers ranging from 65 percent to 90 percent. Ianni said that he personally was able to overcome bullying through basketball, earning his fellow students’ respect in high school. “A lot had to do with basketball. Obviously growing up I played different sports. Basketball was one of them. I started playing on the basketball team. I started noticing a huge difference in the respect level given me in high...

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