Belfast Telegraph

Aimee didn’t understand her autistic brother’s condition, so she wrote a book to explain it ...now it’s earned the Co Down teen a £10,000 business award

Aimee Clint (right) with her friend Saan Lee who helped promote the book
Aimee Clint (right) with her friend Saan Lee who helped promote the book
The colourful cover

By Stephanie Bell

A Co Down teenager has picked up a £10,000 Europe-wide enterprise award for a book inspired by her autistic brother.

Aimee Clint (18) from Ballywalter wrote the book to help children of primary school age understand autism after she struggled growing up with her younger sibling, who is now 14.

No Two Stars Are The Same is currently in 370 primary schools here and also in demand among teachers in England.

After scooping the top prize in the TransferWise 20 Under 20 2019 for Europe contest, Aimee is now in a position to further develop her new autism awareness business with possible plans for a second book or app.

She said: "The idea for the book started a few years ago when I was involved in a young enterprise project.

"While growing up, there were no resources about my brother's condition which could explain it to me in terms that I really understood.

"My mum was able to buy books for her but couldn't find anything for me.

"I didn't have a close relationship with him because I didn't understand what he was going through.

"To me it was confusing why he was getting frustrated with things that I didn't get frustrated about.

"I also saw a lot of people judging him and couldn't understand why.

"I decided to create a resource to give back to other siblings something that I felt was missing from what I was going through when I was younger. To me it is about breaking down the stigma of autism among children."

Aimee teamed up with good friend Saan Lee, who helped with promoting the book.

She met with autism groups, people with autism, families and charities to present her first draft and get feed-back.

Studying business at South Eastern Regional College, she set up Books by Stellas after taking part in an enterprise club.

She explained: "When I stared SERC last September, I was delighted to learn that they had an enterprise club.

"I signed up and got great support from Dr John Terry and Terence Brannigan, chairman of Tourism NI and SERC's entrepreneur in residence.

"In January 2019 I took part in Social Enterprise NI's Dragons' Den at their annual conference in Mossley Mill.

"Although we didn't win, our profile and the book got noticed by lots of other social enterprises and sales started to grow.

"Testament to the power of social media, someone messaged me on LinkedIn about TransferWise 20 Under 20, and after some investigation I decided to enter our work.

"There were over 60 applicants from across Europe, which was whittled down to 20, including me, who were invited on an all-expenses paid visit to TranferWise headquarters in London which allowed us to meet up to network.

"It was an amazing experience. I kept asking myself: 'Why am I here?'"

Aimee was thrilled to be further selected as one of the top five and faced the daunting task of having to pitch her idea to a panel of judges.

Now with the top prize of £10,000 to boost her business she is full of ideas to develop new tools to further increase autism awareness.

She said: "I was delighted to win the angel investment to develop the business in whatever way we want.

"It is brilliant in that we only ever had about £200 in our bank account for the business and now we will be able to do so much more. At the minute we are looking into animation for the book and perhaps an app."

From the start Aimee has had a 'buy one, give one' approach to the book so that for every copy sold, she donates a copy to a primary school here.

Currently one in 30 local children has a diagnosis of autism - that's one in every classroom of 30 children.

She added: "Never be told you will not be able to do something or you are too young to do it."

Aimee's book can be purchased at Booksbystellas.com. For more info on course at SERC visit www.serc.ac.uk or call 0345 600 7555

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