“On Quantum Leap, I share tips that I used to overcome some of the challenges caused by my learning differences,” she says. “I’m also a peer outreach worker for the Mayor of London. I help influence the mayor’s policies toward young people.”
This October, Castellon was recognized with a BBC Teen Hero Award for her work. And she was invited to Kensington Palace, home of the royal family.
“My initial response was disbelief. That was followed by a mixture of nervousness and excitement,” she says. “After all, it’s not every day that one gets invited to the home of the future King of England.”
As is their tradition, Prince William and Kate Middleton — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — hosted a reception for the BBC Teen Hero award finalists to acknowledge their outstanding work. Castellon was part of a small meeting with the royals.
“It was definitely a pinch-yourself type moment,” Castellon recalls. “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge knew my name, about my website. They knew about my advocacy and my anti-bullying campaign, #AlwaysBeKind.”
During the reception, Castellon was congratulated for helping to change some of the myths around learning differences and autism. The duchess even complimented her efforts to tackle bullying. Through her #AlwaysBeKind campaign, Castellon hopes to prevent other students from having a similar experience to hers.
Check out an Instagram post from Kensington Palace highlighting Castellon’s visit.
View this post on InstagramAt the Teen Heroes reception, Their Royal Highnesses also met 16-year-old Siena who has autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. When she was just 13, Siena created the website QL Mentoring to support students with autism and learning difficulties. 📺 Catch the Teen Awards on BBC 2 at 5:45pm today and watch the Teen Heroes be recognised for their incredible achievements. 📷 BBC and Sarah Jeynes A post shared by Kensington Palace (@kensingtonroyal) on Oct 21, 2018 at 6:27am PDT
“I believe that having a learning difference does not define who you are. And it does not have to limit your dreams,” she says. “Some of the greatest contributions to our society were made by visionaries and innovators who had learning differences.”
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Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.