If you ever met Kerry Magro, you would never get that he was diagnosed with a condition called Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) when he was four years old.
PDDNOS is a form of autism, and often those who suffer from it struggle in social situations, but Magro has made such strides that often it is difficult to imagine he ever had such issues.
He moved around a lot in the school system until his mother found a comfortable fit for him at a community high school in Teaneck for kids with special needs. Overcoming so much adversity and becoming a college freshman were formidable accomplishments.
Magro is now an award-winning national speaker and best-selling author and over the years, he has focused his considerable energy on autism awareness.
While in college when he had to give a presentation for his oral communications class, he chose autism as the subject and told his peers for the first time that he was on the autism spectrum.
Magro has gone on to earn a master’s degree in strategic communication and leadership from Seton Hall University.
In 2011, he won a scholarship for graduate school through the National Speakers Association, which allowed him to become a national motivational speaker. Since that time, he has spoken at over 600 events around the country in the past 6 years on disability-related topics.
He has become a role model in the disabled community. For the past four or five years, he’s been giving motivational talks around the country.
On Nov. 20, Magro paid a visit to students at Explore Middle School in Jersey City where he talked about bullying as part of anti-bullying presentation.
He currently is CEO and founder of KFM Making a Difference, a non-profit corporation focused on disability advocacy and housing.
He has two best-selling books (“Defining Autism from The Heart” and “Autism and Falling in Love”) and was involved in the 2012 Motion Picture “Joyful Noise.”
In his appearance at Explore 2000. Magro encouraged students to “choose kindness” and shared his own powerful story of being bullied growing up
Explore 2000 is a unique kind of middle school. It had been a school within the Jersey City campus of the Hudson County Schools of Technology on Montgomery Street that uses a project-based method of education. HCST is a group of county-run public schools open to students who apply from throughout the county.
In Explore 2000, students learn Core Curriculum subjects by developing projects and through intense study of a particular subject, such as the environmental impact of pollution, or how the human body works.
The roughly 50-minute presentation titled “I Used to Be Bullied for Being Different: Here’s When It Stopped” was organized by Explore Middle School’s Anti-Bullying Coordinator and was attended by each class in the school.
“You have power and you can make a difference when you see bullying happening because at the end of the day, words do have power,” Magro told students.
Magro told the students that some of their favorite celebrities — including Anna Kendrick, Adam Levine, Jennifer Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Demi Lovato, Jessica Alba and Ellen DeGeneres — were bullied when they were in school.
The PowerPoint presentation concluded with students sharing examples of bullying they have seen in the media and expressed how grateful they were to feel welcomed and accepted by their peers at Explore Middle School.
“Mr. Magro provided our students with an engaging and thought-provoking presentation about the consequences of bullying,” said Explore Middle School Principal Allyson Krone. “This type of testimonial shows students that bullying is an issue faced everywhere, and they are not too young to make a positive difference by leading the fight against bullying here in our community.”