Following Uproar, Teen With Autism Will Make Trip To UN
PORTLAND, Ore. — After months of whirlwind emotions, a teen who won a trip to the United Nations, but then had the trip denied because he has autism, has learned that he will be able to go on the trip after all.
Niko Boskovic, 15, finished first in an essay contest sponsored by North Portland’s Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge. As the winner, he was given the opportunity to join 300 other winners from around the world for next month’s 10-day United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth in New York City and Washington, D.C.
But shortly after winning, Niko’s invitation to attend the event was withdrawn by the national board overseeing the trip. After his family worked with Disability Rights Oregon to advocate for his inclusion, the trip is back on.
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“We finally got all the details ironed out this week, and the issues have been resolved between the parties,” said Loreta Boskovic, Niko’s mom, noting that details of the agreement are confidential.
Since having the trip initially denied, Loreta Boskovic said the family had been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received.
“The response from people that we know and the community at large has been amazing,” she said Sunday afternoon. “People said they were appalled and disappointed. I would read the comments to Niko, and it was very powerful to hear this support from people we didn’t know.”
In addition to visiting New York City and Washington, there’s a side trip to Gettysburg, Pa. Niko will be accompanied on the trip by his mother, who will assist with his communication. Niko was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old, and uses a letter board to communicate.
“He’s very excited,” Boskovich said. “He can’t wait to get on the plane, and is really looking forward to seeing New York City.”
On his Facebook page, Niko expressed thanks for the support:
“Hey everyone, I wanted to let you know that I am definitely going on the UN trip next month! There were people talking to people for a while, and it finally got worked out. I couldn’t be more excited to get on a plane! I want to thank everyone who spoke out for one autistic kid who heard the word ‘no’ and said, ‘why not?'”
Niko’s winning essay was about the recent border dispute between Ukraine and Russia, and the role that the United Nations plays in international conflicts.
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