Williams honors autistic student for innovative ideas

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams presented East Flatbush resident Ajani Romain (center-left) with a New York City Council Citation for his innovative ideas toward building a greener, sustainable environment in the 45th Council District. They were joined by Ajani’s brothers Amir (right) and Akins (center).
NYC Council / John McCarten

Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane D. Williams has presented an eight-year-old autistic student of Public School 315 in East Flatbush with a New York City Council Citation for his innovative ideas towards building a greener, sustainable environment in the 45th Council District.

Williams, Deputy Leader of the City Council, said Ajani Romain was nonverbal at an early age, but added that, with intensive therapy, he began to express his thoughts, and, in particular, his passion for the environment, through art.

With the help of his mother Wadlyne Charles, Ajani sent a letter to Williams that outlined his vision of a more environmentally-conscious City “through a new and improved street sweeper prototype he designed,” said Williams, representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

The design would not only clean the streets in a more efficient way but would decrease the noise and gas pollution that street sweepers currently emit, Williams said.

“I was touched by Ajani’s story, whose admirable passion for bettering our community will not go unnoticed,” said Williams, who met Ajani and his family during the 4th Annual Breukelen Country Fair on Sept. 26.

“We are facing one of the most difficult climate issues of our time, but with ambitious proposals like young Ajani’s, our city can move toward a more sustainable future,” he added.

“I look forward to meeting with the Council’s Committee on Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Chair Reynoso as well as members of the City’s Department of Environmental Protection to make Ajani’s dream become a reality,” Williams continued. “Though he is one of my younger constituents, he is truly an example for all New Yorkers.”

Williams said Ajani is asthmatic and is “quite aware of the state of his health.”

On one particular day, the councilman said Ajani was walking home from school with his mother, when a sidewalk cleaning truck swept up “a monstrous cloud of dust.

“It was a habit of theirs to spot, stop, and cover their nose, mouths and eyes whenever the cleaning trucks passed,” Williams said. “That day, something struck him after the dust storm left, and he told his mother, ‘this truck is not cleaning the street, it’s just moving the garbage around. I will design a truck that will clean streets and the air.’”

Williams said Ajani “took pen to paper” and, within five minutes, handed his mother a draft of his design.

“Once he completed his prototype, he asked me to promise him that I make this machine become real,” said Ajani’s mother. “I saw something genuine in his eyes, through his eyes. He thought he had made something to help the environment, the one thing I know he connects with on such a deep level.

“I am not anyone but simply a mother to this beautiful child, which is why I reached out to Council Member Williams’ office in hope of help in making Ajani’s dream a reality,” she added.

Williams said his office researched Ajani’s proposal and found similar street sweepers being used in various cities across the country. Hoping to make Ajani’s dream a reality, Williams said he will be meeting with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Council’s Committee on Sanitation & Solid Waste Management Chair Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) to discuss Ajani’s proposal and the next steps towards replacing current street sweepers in the City of New York.

After receiving a New York City Council Citation from Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Ajani and his brothers Amiri and Akins enjoyed a puppet show during the 4th Annual Breukelen Country Fair at Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, which hosts an array of games, crafts, food, music, demonstrations and family friendly workshops led by Brooklyn based participants.
NYC Council / John McCarten

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