(DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA) May 11, 2023 – Next week, Friends of Zyion (“FOZ”), an organization dedicated to autism and other neurodivergent disorders, will be hosting its inaugural gala, The Friends of Zyion Honors, at Focus DC, on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 7:30pm and it’s free admission! Special guest honorees that will be in attendance include reality star, entrepreneur, and mental health advocate, Trina Braxton (WE tv’s Braxton Family Values), retired NFL star and mental health advocate, Joe Barskdale, and reality star, entrepreneur and founding member of the legendary R&B group B2K, Raz B (Bad Boys Club). There will also be two special guest DJ’s creating the perfect ambiance for “partying with a purpose” with DJ Tryfe and DJ 24/7. Sponsors include Big Heart Toys, Wild Bond Creations and Divine Creations by Lourounda.
FOZ founder, Derrick Jakolby Washingtonwas inspired to establish the foundation after publishing his latest children’s book, “A Special Little Girl” dedicated to his niece, Zyion who was diagnosed with Autism. Zyion was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 4 and her family spent the next few years re-learning the world through the lens of autism. The diagnosis brought them a sense of understanding and the realization that life for Zyion may be more challenging for her than her peers particularly in the areas of communication and emotional regulation. Through his research, Washington began to understand the lack of resources afforded to children of color diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). After witnessing an upsetting incident at Zyion’s gymnastic class, her uncle, Derrick Jakolby Washington felt moved to author “A Special Little Girl.” The book is a heartwarming and colorful affirmation of love and encouragement for now 10 year old Zyion that calls for empathy and inclusion across “neurotypical” and neurodivergent communities. Autism Digest Magazine called it “gloriously beautiful” and it has been featured on CBN, FOX, Hype Magazine, The Willie Moore Jr Show, and more.
By founding Friends of Zyion, Washington hopes to curate a space that will address these inequities and provide infinite opportunities for children and their families.