My name is John Harris and my son Kale, 10, received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome in 2015, when he was 5. Kale struggles to make friends his own age, and finds daily life quite difficult. However, he always tries his best and is becoming a fantastic advocate for autistic people, those with disabilities, and anyone who is perceived by others as being different. His mother, Karla Herbert, has suggested to our son that being ‘weird’ or different can be a really positive thing. Kale has always said, “Being weird can make you awesome”.
In April 2020 partly due to being bored and as part of a school project set by the children’s teachers during the first national lockdown, they were asked to either write a poem or a song.
Kale chose to write a song as he has always been extremely creative through music, arts and being able to read fluently from the age of 2. He formed a band with his older brother Johnson, (Bouba) 11, and his younger sister Indiana (Boo-Lash), 6, called The Stencil Pencils, the world’s youngest Asperger’s band!
While practicing with each other in the dining room, which they now call their music room, banishing me and poor Mummy to the garden, they wrote the song ‘Quarantine/Covid-19’, a satirical rap track about the ups and downs of lockdown life. The lyrics were partly inspired by NHS hero Captain Sir Tom Moore who tells us “Tomorrow will be a better day”.
Kale shouts in the song that he has never liked PE particularly at school but has been inspired by fitness guru Joe Wicks. Two days after their mummy filmed them performing the song in the family living room, she uploaded the video to YouTube where it received lots of views, by our families and neighbours. The band were kindly asked to perform their song, ‘Quarantine/Covid-19’, live for the VE Day street party, which went down an absolute treat. The neighbours have been singing the song ever since! With this brief introduction to fame, which they have thoroughly enjoyed, the Stencil Pencils said to me they were going to get straight on with writing another Coronavirus themed song which they have called ‘Gullible’.
I really like their new song and am impressed with the clever fun, light-hearted lyrics that politely ask the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the U.K Government about the often confusing guidance on Coronavirus restrictions and the Government’s national lockdowns! The political messages in their music struck a chord with local media outlets where we live in Wavendon, Milton Keynes, and led to an interview on the BBC Three Counties Radio Breakfast Show, which led to an amazing appearance on BBC TV News.
The Stencil Pencils first came to the nation’s attention by appearing on CITV’s Scrambled!’s Got Talent. The trio stole the show with their performance of Covid-19 and ended up winning the talent show. Their jolly, amusing live shows and interviews have led to several media and disabled organisations getting in touch with us due to them achieving so much in such a short amount of time considering their young ages.
The band’s charity single ‘It’s Christmas’ which supports Dr Anna Kennedy Online Autism Awareness was written with the theme of inclusion. Johnson says Christmas is for children and it was a way for us to highlight the fact that many people believe Christmas is just about getting presents and having a great time. We wanted to think about children and people who get nothing and who don’t even have somewhere to sleep! Indiana sings in the new song” For some, life could be so much more, if we give them hope” people who have listened to her sing and watched the video, say it has bought tears to their eyes !
The band pushed their inclusion message for openness and acceptance of all human beings no matter who they are, by mentioning this important moral issue when they were given the chance to present their own hour long charity Christmas show, aired on Christmas day on the biggest radio station in Milton Keynes which received a genuine loving response. We have been told this is unheard of within the music industry – an unsigned band being given their own local radio show!
Although they are young, they all have a lot to say and the band are in the process of writing their autobiography. In a quote from their book, Kale says, “In response to the furore and intense publicity the Black Lives Matter Organisation have received at the intrinsic expense to most, it has been suggested… Of every other human soul providing organisation… To a point where it feels that if you are not black or just naively join the rumbling circus that surrounds the initiative BLM are stating then you seem to have no value. I have said to journalists, please let it be noted The Stencil Pencils truly understand and acknowledge the Black Lives Matter’s hopes, dreams and aspiration, but the band humbly ask at what cost to everyone else who doesn’t fit or assimilate in that bag?…The children ask what is their value, mixed, white, yellow, red or brown? The band says “It shouldn’t matter about what colour are your eyes, eyebrows or hair!..Now is the time to forge ahead as one all embracing, caring humanity”