Rochester mum Kellie Milano's fancy dress challenge for Club AUsome

A mum spent every day in April in fancy dress to help spread the message that it is OK to be different.

Kellie Milano from Rochester runs an autism group and has three children herself who are on the autism spectrum.

Kellie talking about why she wore fancy dress for a month

She set herself the challenge of dressing up every day for a month to show the children she helps care for that it is OK to stand out from the crowd.

Among the things she dressed as during April were a carrot, a whoopee cushion, a unicorn, a nun, an elf and an Oompa Loompa.

Kellie has visited the zoo dressed as a giant baby, gone shopping as a banana, been to the pub as a pineapple and done her housework as Cat in the Hat.

Kellie dressed as a giant baby
Kellie dressed as a giant baby
Doing the housework as Cat in the Hat
Doing the housework as Cat in the Hat

Everything she has done has been in fancy dress - from the school run to hospital appointments. At the end of the month she attended the Pride in Medway Awards evening dressed as a clown.

The 40-year-old was nominated for her work with autistic children and their families.

She set up Club AUsome in 2015 and it now supports more than 1,600 families across Medway and Kent.

Dressed as a clown at The Pride in Medway Awards evening
Dressed as a clown at The Pride in Medway Awards evening
Dressed as a gnome to go to Tesco
Dressed as a gnome to go to Tesco

Kellie, of Orion Road, said: "I wanted to show the kids that it is OK to be different and to celebrate that. And to encourage them to just go out and be yourself and be happy, and not to worry about what everyone else thinks."

Kellie was set challenges by some club members including getting pictured holding bananas in Aldi dressed as a banana.

She said the reaction she has got has been mostly positive. Although one woman stopped her on her first day of the challenge in The Pentagon in Chatham, when she was dressed as a rainbow.

On the first day dressed as a rainbow
On the first day dressed as a rainbow
Dressed as a traffic cone in front of the Thomas Waghorn statue in Chatham
Dressed as a traffic cone in front of the Thomas Waghorn statue in Chatham

She said: "I dressed as a rainbow to represent the autism spectrum.

"This woman stopped me and asked what I was doing. When I told her she said 'I feel for you' which is exactly the sort of attitude we want to change."

Kellie said the challenge was originally just about raising awareness but a parent at the club encouraged her to set up a Go Fund Me donation page and she has raised more than £500.

Off to the shops as a nun
Off to the shops as a nun
Dressed as a carrot for Easter
Dressed as a carrot for Easter

The money will help fund days out with the club.

Club AUsome offers youth clubs, outings and activities for children so they have a safe and secure place to make friends and socialise, as well as coffee mornings and support for their parents.

The charity delivers food parcels to families and also goes into schools to offer support to parents and to staff.

Wearing fancy dress on the school run
Wearing fancy dress on the school run
Off to Ikea
Off to Ikea

Kellie's own children, who have a rare chromosome disorder, are now 11, 15 and 17 and she says autism hasn't stopped them from succeeding but she's had to overcome challenges.

She said: "I have been judged because my children are on the spectrum. I've been told they are autistic because I'm fat, or because I let them eat McDonald's chips.

Kellie Milano dressed as a whoopee cushion
Kellie Milano dressed as a whoopee cushion
Off to the pub as a pineapple
Off to the pub as a pineapple

"I was always that parent on the school playground complaining that their child hadn't been invited to birthday parties. I was always going into school because things weren't good enough.

"I wanted to change that. I wanted to make sure children like mine were able to make friends, and I wanted to offer support to parents and make sure they didn't feel isolated and lonely. And I think we have changed that."

To donate to Kellie's fundraisier, click here.

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