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Trailblazing third grader advocates for awareness during Autism Acceptance Month

Ricki Williams' inspiration for her advocacy work was a friend she made in the first grade who has autism
Posted: 4:53 PM, Apr 26, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-26 20:24:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — One tiny trailblazer at Bonillas Traditional Elementary School spread smiles and awareness during a recent Friday morning assembly.

Ricki Williams' goal was to make sure everyone at her school celebrated diversity during Autism Acceptance Month.

Ricki Williams

Williams first found interest in the subject after making a friend with autism in the first grade. Her friend moved away, but Williams held their friendship close to her heart. When she moved on to second grade, she decided to start teaching students at Bonillas about autism.

Ricki Williams leading assembly at Bonillas

“It is important to me to teach others about autism because the more aware we are," Williams said during the assembly. "The more accepting we can be to others.”

Now as a third grader, Williams shares facts about autism during the morning announcements.

“Albert Einstein was a famous scientist who had autism, and service dogs are usually used for people with autism because it helps them calm down.”

Bubble blowing at Bonillas

Williams encouraged the school to bring bubbles and wear blue for the assembly. I myself wore the color blue with the rest of the Bonillas students.

Jacqueline Aguilar and Ricki Williams

Williams even made special gifts for her cheer team so they could be included.

“The cheerleaders need to wear the uniforms," Williams said. "So, I made all the cheerleaders buttons so they could also be wearing blue.”

Bonillas cheerleader

They say it takes a village and Williams has one with Bonillas. School principal, Frankie Schiavone, said he finds it refreshing to see someone her age take on important advocacy work.

Bonillas Principal Frankie Schiavone and Ricki Williams

“She has such a passion for this," said Principal Schiavone. "I wanted her to—I was like ‘Ricki you’re gonna do it, you’re gonna take control and you tell me when you need help.’"

Ricki Williams

Williams isn’t sure what she wants to do when she grows up, but says she’ll always advocate for autism acceptance.

Jacqueline Aguilar is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9. Born and raised in Yuma, AZ., she is no stranger to the unforgiving Arizona heat. Now this U of A wildcat is excited to be back in Tucson and is looking forward to involving herself in the community. Share your story ideas with Jacqueline by emailing or connecting on Facebook, Instagram or X.